The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded the University of Kent a grant of £322,910 to study the electro-magnetic architecture of buildings.
Dr John Batchelor and Professor Ted Parker in the Department of Electronics will co-ordinate the investigation, with the aim of better controlling indoor radio signal strengths.
Their research aims to ultimately improve wireless network access in offices and security in prisons where the illicit use of mobile phones is widespread.
The project, which begins in January 2007, is in collaboration with the universities of Manchester and Auckland, and the Police Information Technology Organisation. The total funding for the project is £581,000 over three years.
Batchelor said: ‘Our research will involve integrating frequency selective surfaces into building walls. These surfaces can either pass or block certain radio frequencies meaning that transmissions can be contained in, or passed out of sealed rooms.
‘This has promising implications for “reusing” radio signals in adjacent rooms and increasing the total number of wireless channels available, or conversely, blocking signals completely and stopping people from making unauthorised mobile phone calls. Modern architectural regulations are aimed only at structural and aesthetical issues, while ignoring the problem of controlling access to an ever expanding wireless infrastructure.’