Array-Based Radio Frequency Sensing

Technology #17482

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James Vian
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
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Andrew Bolstad
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
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Jonathan Chisum
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
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Jack Turner
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Methods And Apparatus For Array-Based Compressed Sensing

PCT Patent Application WO 2016-186998
Photonics-enabled sub-Nyquist radio frequency sensing based on temporal channelization and compressive sensing
2014 International Topical Meeting on Microwave Photonics (MWP) and the 2014 9th Asia-Pacific Microwave Photonics Conference (APMP),, Sendai, Oct. 20, 2014, pp. 335-8
Cooperative wideband spectrum sensing using radio frequency sensor networks
2010 Conference Record of the Forty Fourth Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers (ASILOMAR), Pacific Grove, CA, Nov. 7, 2010, pp. 951-5


  • Small size, efficient and wide-band radio frequency surveillance system
  • Communication systems, radio frequency sensing and cognitive radios
  • Internet of things

Problem Addressed

There is increasing demand for systems capable of identifying, locating and responding to electromagnetic emissions found anywhere in extremely wide bandwidths, including to determine whether a given frequency band is occupied or available to a cognitive radio. Currently, high sensitivity, narrowband receiver arrays capable of decoding signals and determining direction-of-arrival (DoA) must be tuned to a frequency of interest provided by prior knowledge of the spectrum or a less sensitive, wideband cueing receiver.  These cueing receivers add size, weight, and power to the overall system.  Without cueing, the spectral coverage is limited to the instantaneous bandwidth of the receiver, which is much less than the tuning bandwidth.


The technology is an Array-based Compressed sensing Receiver Architecture (ACRA) that eliminates the need for a cueing receiver by incorporating a wideband scanning mode in a sensitive digital receiver array. ACRA extends the functionality of a narrowband, tuned digital receiver array to also detect signals over very wide bandwidths by employing compressed sensing (CS) techniques. ACRA offers persistent surveillance of the entire tuning bandwidth increasing the likelihood of detecting short bursts of RF energy and reducing the delay in detecting persistent waveforms with little to no increase in power requirements, cost or system complexity.


  • Enables persistent surveillance of the entire bandwidth
  • Extends the functionality of a narrowband, tuned digital receiver array to include signal detection
  • Low power, weight and cost alternative to traditional IFM receiver technology