New sophisticated equipment for Microwave Lab

15 Dec 2014 - 16:45

A launch for the newly acquired Agilent network analyser was held in the New Engineering Building foyer on Tuesday 2 December.

A/Professor Riana Geschke invited DVC Professor Francis Petersen, academic staff, students, guests from industry and a representative from the NRF to celebrate the acquisition of this sophisticated instrument.


Dr Daniel O’Hagan, A/Professor Riana Geschke, Dr Maharaj (NRF), Professor Francis Petersen (DVC)  and Professor Barry Downing (Dean)

The Microwave laboratory is part of the Radar Remote Sensing group’s operations in the Department of Electrical Engineering. In January 2013, A/Prof Geschke joined the group to complement the  group activities by extending the microwave and Radio Frequency aspects of the work done in the group. Her expertise in measurements, component design and applied computational electromagnetics fills a gap in the group, which is otherwise particularly strong on signal processing, systems modelling of radar systems and parallel computing.

On looking at the capabilities of the Microwave Lab, it was clear to A/Prof Geschke that an upgrade was necessary as the equipment did not cover even the frequency range of existing projects. With her interest in hardware design at frequencies beyond the microwave range, she decided to look for funding for a new network analyser. This is a sophisticated instrument that can characterise devices and entire systems up to 67 GHz

Geschke applied to the University Equipment Committee in February 2013 and to the NRF National Equipment programme in October 2013. In January 2014, she received a letter from the NRF advising that her application was successful, and R2,16 million was awarded. Dr Romilla Marahaj, Executive Director of the Department of Human Infrastructure Capacity Development at the NRF, said, “Riana’s proposal was very well written and a good example on how to write a successful proposal. It is always a pleasure to attend the equipment launches, but I am particularly pleased when it is a female grant holder and in this case, one in the field of engineering. Only 20% of the NRF grant-holders are  women.”

 The instrument cost about R3.5 million and the balance of the money came from the University Equipment Committee, the Faculty Equipment Committee and the Dean’s discretionary fund.

The Agilent network analyser arrived in August 2014, and work has been done in the lab to accommodate the new instrument. Geschke said, “The instrument is upgradable, and the model of use is to invite industry to participate and to co-fund any upgrades as required by joint projects.”