FAQs

Virtual Antenna Technology
About Ignion
Fast Track
Your IoT device
Antenna Integration
Customization

Are Virtual Antenna™ products about 10 times smaller than conventional chip antennas? Doesn’t that go against the laws of physics?

Virtual Antenna™ chips radiate as much as a 10 times larger conventional antenna because it uses the ground metal such as a ground layer on your printed circuit board to radiate. In fact, that ground metal or ground plane is usually the largest conducting element on your wireless device. This is why radiation is maximized using a Virtual Antenna™ solution. When dealing the fundamental limits of physics, the whole radiation system including the ground plane is to be considered, not just the antenna part.

Chip antennas have existed for decades, what is so special about Virtual Antenna™ chips?

Never before a chip antenna component was able to deliver efficient radiation for a broadband/multiband connection such as for instance global 4G/5G cellular connectivity. Only Virtual Antenna™ products can deliver such a performance in such a small form factor.

Is a Virtual Antenna™ product very sensitive to the surrounding elements in my wireless device like batteries, displays, shield cans and alike?

Blocking your antenna components with conductive elements such as batteries, displays, shield cans can decrease the performance of your antenna system. Watch this 1’ video tutorial to get some hints on the right placement of the antenna component on your device. Choosing the right placement for the antenna early in your design process will ensure a smooth and predictable design experience. Remember, in embedded wireless design, antenna goes first!

Why do you say designing with Virtual Antenna™ chips is no more than a circuit design exercise?

Because a Virtual Antenna™ chip is off-the-shelf and needs no mechanical customization. The only engineering effort you need to optimize the performance in your wireless device is designing the proper matching circuit on your PCB. Such a matching circuit will maximize the transfer of energy from your RF module to the antenna system. Please watch the following 1’ video for understanding the basics of a matching circuit design. Not sure how to start your matching circuit design? Check our online service  Fast Track and you will get a matching circuit specially designed for your PCB board in 24h, together with an estimation of the radiation performance you might get on your device.

I am used to RF and microwave design tools but not as much to antenna design; can Virtual Antenna™ help on that?

You can embed a Virtual Antenna™ chip in your RF design the same way you would do it for any other chip or RF component. You can use standard RF/electronics circuit design tool such as Cadence AWR Design Environment (Microwave Office), ADS by Keysight, Optenni or alike to design your full wireless device including the antenna. Circuit libraries for most popular circuit design software packs are available on the home page of every Virtual Antenna™ product. Visit our Libraries section.

Why do you say designing with Virtual Antenna™ is easy?

Because no antenna expertise is needed to embed a Virtual Antenna™ chip on your device. Antenna performance is optimized just by matching circuit design. Check the following 1-2-3 1’ video set to overview the simple, systematic, predictable design process involved in Virtual Antenna™ design.

Why do you say designing with Virtual Antenna™ is faster?

Because no antenna customization is needed. The antenna part remains the same no matter your device form factor and frequency band. Plus, every design iteration is done through a simple matching circuit adjustment. No longer cumbersome mechanical adjustments and prototyping is needed in every design iteration

I have always been designing antennas on a 3D Electromagnetic CAD software, can I still do that with Virtual Antenna™ products?

You might want to use Virtual Antenna™ standard product libraries ready for the standard CST 3D Electromagnetic CAD tool. Just import the library on CST and use it for a full 3D Electromagnetic analysis of your full wireless device, including batteries, shieldings, plastic covers and alike. Virtual Antenna™ libraries for CST are available in the Libraries section.

Why Virtual Antenna™ products are not build on ceramic substrate?

Because there is no need for it. Virtual Antenna™ product performance is based on the geometry of its conductive elements, not in the dielectric material. This means that convenient glass epoxy materials such as FR4 can be used, ensuring the right performance at an optimum price with worldwide widespread manufacturing capabilities.

Why glass epoxy based materials such as FR4 are used in Virtual Antenna™ products?

Glass epoxy substrates are the most common in circuit design. This ensures availability of raw material and production capability in about any PCB manufacturing facility worldwide, minimizing the risk of shortages and price fluctuation in raw materials.

What does it mean the Virtual Antenna™ products are passive?

Most multiband wireless products can accommodate a Virtual Antenna™ solution with a fixed, passive matching network that delivers the entire multiband spectrum at once. No active tunning is needed for most of applications, saving battery live while making the entire spectrum available for full speed data transmission.

Why Virtual Antenna™ products feature an omnidirectional pattern? Can I have a directional Virtual Antenna™ product?

As a matter of physics, small antennas always feature an omnidirectional pattern. This is particularly convenient for portable wireless devices that need to get signal coverage from a base station or satellite located in an unknown, arbitrary location and direction. Directionality through Virtual Antenna™ products can only be achieved through combining multiple Virtual Antenna™ chips in antenna arrays or in NxN MIMO architectures.

Are Fractus and Ignion the same company?

No, they are different. Ignion and Fractus have a different shareholder structure, and independent Board of Directors and a separate Management Team. Ignion owns the exclusive right to sell and manufacture under a license from Fractus the ReachXTEND™ family of fractal based chip antenna products.

Are the products of Ignion based on Fractal Antenna Technology?

Virtual Antenna™ products, i.e. the mXTEND™ family is based on a technology which is radically different to fractal antennas. Only legacy products in the ReachXTEND™ family are based on fractals. Ignion is still supplying them to meet our long-term commitments from customers that have being using those products for more than a year. New wireless designs should be addressed with Virtual Antenna™ products instead as those are more flexible and scalable than resonant fractal antenna products. Should you need help in choosing the right Virtual Antenna™ product, please contact us at support@ignion.io

Is Ignion a subsidiary company of Fractus?

No. Ignion and Fractus have a different shareholder structure, and independent Board of Directors and a separate Management Team.

May I get pin-to-pin compatible Ignion like products from a third party vendor?

Virtual Antenna™ products are unique and there are no pin-to-pin compatible products in the market. Should you desire to get supplied by multiple sources, Ignion has an open Technology Partnership Program to enable other antenna suppliers to manufacture and deliver pin-to-pin compatible products in standard and predictable conditions for the entire industry. Should you want to get supplied Virtual Antenna™ licensed products from a third party, please contact us here.

Is Virtual Antenna™ technology based on fractals?

Virtual Antenna™ technology is completely unrelated to fractals. Virtual Antenna™ chips are for cellular applications because actually 10 times smaller than their fractal related counterparts (e.g. PIFA or Ceramic SMT antennas).

What is Fast Track? What do you get by submitting a Fast Track form?

It is an online antenna design tool that delivers a proof of concept Virtual Antenna™ system design specific for your device and wireless application. By requesting a Fast Track design you will get a report describing a Virtual Antenna™ component placed on a PCB of your specific size, together with the right matching circuit for your device and application and the computed radiation performance.

Is the Fast Track service free of charge?

The Fast Track service is free of charge for wireless product design with an Estimated Annual Units (EAU) of at least 50.000 antenna units per year. Should your project be smaller, please contact a Ignion representative so we can better understand your project and recommend the path to go.

Is the Fast Track service delivered in 24h?

Standard delivery time for a Fast Track service is 24h or the next working day (depending on the regional time difference) for a single-port single antenna per device. Wireless devices with multiple antennas might need an extension of time. Wireless devices embedding a multiport antenna (e.g. TRIO mXTEND™ or DUO mXTEND™) for multiple radios into the same component might need an extension of time. Subject to availability.

What if my wireless device involves multiple PCB interconnected? Will that impact my radiation performance?

Interconnecting the grounds of mutiple PCBs might affect the overall radiation performance of your device. This might be corrected by just a tuning of the matching network. For a full analysis of your multiple-PCB device, please consider using one of our services.

A sticker antenna including a UFL cable does not need matching, isn’t it easier for my wireless design?

Changing the antenna position with respect to your PCB will significantly impact the antenna performance. This means that the overall position of your sticker inside the device will definitely change the overall radiation performance compared to, let’s say the bare, uncovered device as preliminary tested in your lab. In contrast, choosing the right placement of a chip antenna ensures a predictable, reliable design process and final performance throughout the entire design process.

Will I lose coverage in my device compared to an external antenna?

The performance of an internal antenna, such as for instance a chip antenna, is comparable to that of a short stubby antenna on your device, yet being far more convenient in terms of product design, manufacturing and reliability. An increase of coverage throughout an external antenna is only achieved by using large directional external elements (such as long dipoles or dipole arrays), which however reduce coverage in adjacent direction away from the main one.

Why do insist that ‘antenna design goes first’ for any wireless device?

The antenna performance is optimized by choosing the right placement of the antenna chip on the board and keeping it clear from shielding elements that might block radiation. By choosing the right board size and antenna placement your entire wireless embedded design will become predictable and reliable, making your whole design experience smoother, with a more reduced number of iterations and less problems in the certification stage.

Is the performance of a Virtual Antenna™ product very sensitive to the ground plane size?

Virtual Antenna™ products make use of the ground plane on your device to maximize radiation, so your antenna system has an effective size close to your whole device, the maximum size it can physically have. As a matter of physics, if the size of your entire device is significantly reduced, that will cause some reduction in either the overall bandwidth and radiation efficiency. That might be critical or not depending on your device size and wireless application. Please check our Application Notes section you can to decide what ground plane size is suitable for your application

Do Virtual Antennas™ need some clearance on the printed circuit board (PCB) ground? Why is that?

Some Virtual Antenna™ products need a ground clearance beyond the component footprint because that maximizes bandwidth and radiation efficiency. Some products such as DUO mXTEND do not need a ground clearance beyond the antenna footprint. Please check the following video for general recommendations on clearance. Please check in our application notes section for clearance related guidelines

What does it mean ‘operating range’ for a Virtual Antenna™? How it can be so huge (400 MHz to 10 GHz)?

The operating range of a Virtual Antenna is the maximum range of frequencies available for radiation in a Virtual Antenna chip. This is by far the largest available in the market because, in contrast to other antenna technologies, Virtual Antenna chips are non resonant. By using the proper matching network the RF designer will chose the combination of bands to be used within the entire operating range.

What does it mean that Virtual Antenna™ products are ‘frequency neutral’?

Virtual Antenna™ products are non resonant, meaning that the antenna does not pre-condition the frequency of radiation. The frequency is determined by the RF engineer, not by the antenna part. The right frequency of radiation is selected through the matching circuit in the Virtual Antenna™ system

What if I want a custom Virtual Antenna™ product for my wireless device?

Virtual Antenna™ products makes custom antenna design unnecessary for most wireless products and applications. Performance is optimized by properly designing the matching circuit on your device, not by changing or adapting the antenna part. This streams your wireless design while making the overall engineering of your IoT device more predictable in terms of cost, time to market and also performance.

Before I switch my design to a Virtual Antenna™ solution I want to make sure how to compare a Virtual Antenna™ chip with a competing product. How can I do that?

Different antenna parts should be always compared on the same ground plane basis, as all unbalanced chip, custom and generally SMT antennas change performance with ground plane. Results on different ground plane sizes do not provide a good reference for comparison. You can get a fast assessment on the performance of a Virtual Antenna™ product on your device by using our online service  Fast Track. You will get an estimation of the chip antenna performance in your device in 24h (subject to Terms & Conditions).