UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


EEE academic awarded prestigious RAEng fellowship

23 October 2023

Dr Matthew Ritchie from UCL’s Electronic and Electrical Engineering department has been awarded a jointly funded Fellowship in distributed multi-function Radio Frequency (RF) sensing and communications, with support from Royal Academy of Engineering and Leonardo UK.

Dr Mathew Ritchie

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) offers Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships, with the goal to strengthen the links between industry and academia, supporting academics in UK universities to undertake use-inspired research to meet the needs of industrial sponsors. This year, Dr Matthew Ritchie was successfully awarded the jointly funded Fellowship with support from Leonardo UK, one of the UK's leading aerospace companies and one of biggest suppliers of defence and security equipment to the UK MOD.

The project aims to create a breakthrough in new capabilities for systems in the emerging area of distributed multi-function Radio Frequency (RF) sensing and communication, by developing advanced digital hardware which can operate as a Swiss army knife tool, replacing many devices with a single solution.  

Current practice within radio frequency systems is to use many different devices to send and receive signals for different purposes. With increased technology deployment and limited locations to install new sensors, there is a growing need for multi-function RF devices across sectors. Leonardo UK’s electromagnetic activities continue to broaden in scope and their active and passive RF systems are increasingly required to operate over wider RF bandwidths, detect at greater range, and deliver effects of increased complexity. This is happening in the context of a congested and contested electromagnetic spectrum, as usage for both military and civilian applications continue to grow rapidly. Consolidating sensors across multiple modes, such as radar, communications and electronic warfare (EW) within multi-function RF devices, is critical to the expansion of these technologies.

Diagram of a multi-functional sensor (a) performing several roles within one device, versus (b) multiple devices performing single, specific functions.

In developing the advanced digital hardware, Dr Matthew Ritchie and his team will address key questions that are currently unanswered and have only been partly theoretically simulated. These key questions include how multiple modes can be performed by a single adaptive device, whether an intelligent sensor can adapt the roles its takes when operating in each mode, and how collections of these sensing platforms can operate in unison to deliver more than the sum of their parts. By moving this research forward the work will improve the connectivity and security of the UK.