Fractal antenna design offers alternative to the Yagi-Uda

A cutaway view of the inside of a metablade antenna from Fractal Antenna Systems, showing fractal metamaterials. (Fractal Antenna Systems)

Fractal Antenna Systems has developed a unidirectional, fractal-based antenna design that the company says can be used for 5G and Wi-Fi applications and can replace the traditional Yagi-Uda antenna. Fractal Antenna Systems was recently awarded a patent on the “metablade” antenna design, which uses the company’s proprietary fractal and metamaterial technology.


Nathan Cohen, founder and CEO of Fractal Antenna Systems, invented fractal-based electromagnetic technology in the 1980s and founded Fractal Antenna Systems in 1995. The company first began developing fractal antennas for Nokia Networks in 1999, and the company has been working with carriers “on and off” over the last 20 years, according to Cohen.


“We are widely deployed in the public safety and in-building [and] DAS markets,” Cohen told FierceWirelessTech, but added that the company hasn’t entered the network market yet.


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Fractal antennas are currently widely used in cellular networks. But in 2018, Barcelona-based Fractus, one of Fractal Antenna Systems’ competitors, filed lawsuits against AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint for patent infringement.


“Their technology is different from ours, but in my opinion, to customers that has posed confusion [and has] made it difficult for us to crack the carrier market in recent years,” he said


Fractal Antenna Systems is now marketing its metablade antennas as an alternative to the common Yagi-Uda antennas. Fractal metamaterials can produce parasitic antennas that are highly directional and far smaller in form factor than Yagis, the company claims, and they can be used as drop replacements for Yagis.


“Now, we are strongly focused on 5G and delivering smaller, higher performance [and] wider bandwidth antennas, particularly for ‘densification’ solutions,” Cohen said. “We are concentrating on the sub-6 GHz spectrum. We also have proprietary massive MIMO systems, and millimetric array technology down the line.”


Fractal antennas have many advantages over other antenna designs for cellular applications, Cohen said. The antennas use very compact designs and are typically lighter than other antenna designs. They require less circuitry with fewer radiative elements to reach desired bandwidth, and they do not require inductors or capacitors. The antennas can operate at many different frequencies at the same time, making them good solutions for wideband and multiband applications.


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They also offer “versatility of form factor,” he said. The company can produce fractal versions of all existing antenna types, including dipole, monopole, patch, conformal, spiral and helical antenna designs. In array configurations, fractal antennas can increase bandwidth, allow multiband capabilities, and decrease size load, the company said.


“5G is not the first market for the metablade, but we already have great feedback from carriers to produce versions for their 5G needs,” Cohen said.