Quartzel® fiber is a critical raw material component used to make protective covers for antennas on the top and bottom of commercial airplanes. These fuselage antennas connect with satellites in space (SATCOM) to provide commercial airline passengers connectivity during their flight with access to the internet, on board entertainment, and live TV. The covers that protect the antenna are called radomes and must meet two critical criteria.
First the radomes must have high mechanical and impact strength in order to not only survive but be durable in the environment commercial aircraft are continually exposed to. From the temperature extremes of extended periods of time in direct sunlight while planes are on the ground in possible desert climates to fridged temperatures at 30+ thousand feet for the duration of the flight in addition to having to withstand the impact of hail strikes at high speeds and wildlife or debris while in flight.
Secondly in order for the communication to take place the radome must not create interference or strength loss of the signal between the antennas on the airplane and satellite. So while the radome must be mechanically strong and robust for its required life cycle it must be invisible or transparent from a signal path standpoint.
When our Quartzel® fiber is combined with the right resins to make the composite laminate radome it provides much of the mechanical strength of the radome because it is a continues fiber that is oriented in the optimal direction to bear the required tensile, compressive, and impact forces the radome is designed to meet. The key to Quartzel® fibers being the reinforcement of choice for SATCOM radomes is its industry low dielectric constant (Dk) of 3.74 and dissipation factor (Df) of 0.0002. These electrical properties come from Quartzel®’s purity of >99.95% silica (SiO2) and allow for electrical signals at high frequencies (GHz) to pass through with no interference or loss.