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Beam steering (also spelled beamsteering or beam-steering) is about changing the direction of the main lobe of a radiation pattern.
In a radio antenna's radiation pattern, the main lobe, or main beam, is the lobe containing the higher power. This is the lobe that exhibits the greater field strength.
In the field of antenna design the term radiation pattern refers to the directional (angular) dependence of the strength of the radio waves from the antenna or other source.
In radio and radar systems, beam steering may be accomplished by switching the antenna elements or by changing the relative phases of the RF signals driving the elements.
Radio is the technology of using radio waves to carry information, such as sound and images, by systematically modulating properties of electromagnetic energy waves transmitted through space, such as their amplitude, frequency, phase, or pulse width. When radio waves strike an electrical conductor, the oscillating fields induce an alternating current in the conductor. The information in the waves can be extracted and transformed back into its original form.
Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves in the radio or microwaves domain, a transmitting antenna, a receiving antenna and a receiver and processor to determine properties of the object(s). Radio waves from the transmitter reflect off the object and return to the receiver, giving information about the object's location and speed.
An RF Switch or Microwave Switch is a device to route high frequency signals through transmission paths. RF and microwave switches are used extensively in microwave test systems for signal routing between instruments and devices under test (DUT). Incorporating a switch into a switch matrix system enables you to route signals from multiple instruments to single or multiple DUTs. This allows multiple tests to be performed with the same setup, eliminating the need for frequent connects and disconnects. The entire testing process can be automated, increasing the throughput in high-volume production environments.
In acoustics, beam steering is used to direct the audio from loudspeakers to a specific location in the listening area. This is done by changing the magnitude and phase of two or more loudspeakers installed in a column where the combined sound is added and cancelled at the required position. Commercially, this type of loudspeaker arrangement is known as a line array. This technique has been around for many years but since the emergence of modern DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology there are now many commercially available products on the market. Beam Steering and Directivity Control using DSP was pioneered in the early 1990s by Duran Audio who launched a technology called DDC (Digital Directivity Control).
Acoustics is the branch of physics that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics technology may be called an acoustical engineer. The application of acoustics is present in almost all aspects of modern society with the most obvious being the audio and noise control industries.
A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer; a device which converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound. The most widely used type of speaker in the 2010s is the dynamic speaker, invented in 1925 by Edward W. Kellogg and Chester W. Rice. The dynamic speaker operates on the same basic principle as a dynamic microphone, but in reverse, to produce sound from an electrical signal. When an alternating current electrical audio signal is applied to its voice coil, a coil of wire suspended in a circular gap between the poles of a permanent magnet, the coil is forced to move rapidly back and forth due to Faraday's law of induction, which causes a diaphragm attached to the coil to move back and forth, pushing on the air to create sound waves. Besides this most common method, there are several alternative technologies that can be used to convert an electrical signal into sound. The sound source must be amplified or strengthened with an audio power amplifier before the signal is sent to the speaker.
A line array is a loudspeaker system that is made up of a number of usually identical loudspeaker elements mounted in a line and fed in phase, to create a near-line source of sound. The distance between adjacent drivers is close enough that they constructively interfere with each other to send sound waves farther than traditional horn-loaded loudspeakers, and with a more evenly distributed sound output pattern.
In optical systems, beam steering may be accomplished by changing the refractive index of the medium through which the beam is transmitted or by the use of mirrors, prisms, lenses, or rotating diffraction gratings. Examples of optical beam steering approaches include mechanical mirror-based gimbals or beam-director units, galvanometer mechanisms that rotate mirrors, Risley prisms, phased-array optics, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) using micro-mirrors.
In optics, the refractive index or index of refraction of a material is a dimensionless number that describes how fast light propagates through the material. It is defined as
A transmission medium is a material substance that can propagate energy waves. For example, the transmission medium for sounds is usually a gas, but solids and liquids may also act as a transmission medium for sound.
A mirror is an object that reflects light in such a way that, for incident light in some range of wavelengths, the reflected light preserves many or most of the detailed physical characteristics of the original light, called specular reflection. This is different from other light-reflecting objects that do not preserve much of the original wave signal other than color and diffuse reflected light, such as flat-white paint.
Source: from Federal Standard 1037C
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In antenna theory, a phased array usually means an electronically scanned array, a computer-controlled array of antennas which creates a beam of radio waves that can be electronically steered to point in different directions without moving the antennas. In an array antenna, the radio frequency current from the transmitter is fed to the individual antennas with the correct phase relationship so that the radio waves from the separate antennas add together to increase the radiation in a desired direction, while cancelling to suppress radiation in undesired directions. In a phased array, the power from the transmitter is fed to the antennas through devices called phase shifters, controlled by a computer system, which can alter the phase electronically, thus steering the beam of radio waves to a different direction. Since the array must consist of many small antennas to achieve high gain, phased arrays are mainly practical at the high frequency end of the radio spectrum, in the UHF and microwave bands, in which the antenna elements are conveniently small.
In telecommunications and radar, a reflective array antenna is a class of directive antennas in which multiple driven elements are mounted in front of a flat surface designed to reflect the radio waves in a desired direction. They are a type of array antenna. They are often used in the VHF and UHF frequency bands. VHF examples are generally large and resemble a highway billboard, so they are sometimes called billboard antennas, or in Britain hoarding antennas. Other names are bedspring array and bowtie array depending on the type of elements making up the antenna. The curtain array is a larger version used by shortwave radio broadcasting stations.
Active optics is a technology used with reflecting telescopes developed in the 1980s, which actively shapes a telescope's mirrors to prevent deformation due to external influences such as wind, temperature, mechanical stress. Without active optics, the construction of 8 metre class telescopes is not possible, nor would telescopes with segmented mirrors be feasible.
Adaptive optics (AO) is a technology used to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effect of incoming wavefront distortions by deforming a mirror in order to compensate for the distortion. It is used in astronomical telescopes and laser communication systems to remove the effects of atmospheric distortion, in microscopy, optical fabrication and in retinal imaging systems to reduce optical aberrations. Adaptive optics works by measuring the distortions in a wavefront and compensating for them with a device that corrects those errors such as a deformable mirror or a liquid crystal array.
Liquid crystal on silicon is a miniaturized reflective active-matrix liquid-crystal display or "microdisplay" using a liquid crystal layer on top of a silicon backplane. It is also referred to as a spatial light modulator. LCoS was initially developed for projection televisions but is now used for wavelength selective switching, structured illumination, near-eye displays and optical pulse shaping. By way of comparison, some LCD projectors use transmissive LCD, allowing light to pass through the liquid crystal.
A spatial light modulator (SLM) is an object that imposes some form of spatially varying modulation on a beam of light. A simple example is an overhead projector transparency. Usually when the phrase SLM is used, it means that the transparency can be controlled by a computer. In the 1980s, large SLMs were placed on overhead projectors to project computer monitor contents to the screen. Since then more modern projectors have been developed where the SLM is built inside the projector. These are commonly used in meetings of all kinds for presentations.
A horn loudspeaker is a loudspeaker or loudspeaker element which uses an acoustic horn to increase the overall efficiency of the driving element(s). A common form (right) consists of a compression driver which produces sound waves with a small metal diaphragm vibrated by an electromagnet, attached to a horn, a flaring duct to conduct the sound waves to the open air. Another type is a woofer driver mounted in a loudspeaker enclosure which is divided by internal partitions to form a zigzag flaring duct which functions as a horn; this type is called a folded horn speaker. The horn serves to improve the coupling efficiency between the speaker driver and the air. The horn can be thought of as an "acoustic transformer" that provides impedance matching between the relatively dense diaphragm material and the less-dense air. The result is greater acoustic output power from a given driver.
Beamforming or spatial filtering is a signal processing technique used in sensor arrays for directional signal transmission or reception. This is achieved by combining elements in an antenna array in such a way that signals at particular angles experience constructive interference while others experience destructive interference. Beamforming can be used at both the transmitting and receiving ends in order to achieve spatial selectivity. The improvement compared with omnidirectional reception/transmission is known as the directivity of the array.
Chirped pulse amplification (CPA) is a technique for amplifying an ultrashort laser pulse up to the petawatt level with the laser pulse being stretched out temporally and spectrally prior to amplification.
Apodization is an optical filtering technique. Its literal translation is "removing the foot". It is the technical term for changing the shape of a mathematical function, an electrical signal, an optical transmission or a mechanical structure. In optics, it is primarily used to remove Airy disks caused by diffraction around an intensity peak, improving the focus.
Monopulse radar is a radar system that uses additional encoding of the radio signal to provide accurate directional information. The name refers to its ability to extract range and direction from a single signal pulse.
In modern surveying, the general meaning of laser scanning is the controlled deflection of laser beams, visible or invisible.
Phased array optics also known as the optical phased array (OPA) is the technology of controlling the phase and amplitude of light waves transmitting, reflecting, or captured (received) by a two-dimensional surface using adjustable surface elements. It is the optical analog of phased array radar. By dynamically controlling the optical properties of a surface on a microscopic scale, it is possible to steer the direction of light beams, or the view direction of sensors, without any moving parts. Hardware associated with beam steering applications is commonly called an optical phased array (OPA). Phased array beam steering is used for optical switching and multiplexing in optoelectronic devices, and for aiming laser beams on a macroscopic scale.
Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS) are not a special class of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) but rather the combination of MEMS merged with Micro-optics; this involves sensing or manipulating optical signals on a very small size scale using integrated mechanical, optical, and electrical systems. MOEMS includes a wide variety of devices including optical switch, optical cross-connect, tunable VCSEL, microbolometers amongst others. These devices are usually fabricated using micro-optics and standard micromachining technologies using materials like silicon, silicon dioxide, silicon nitride and gallium arsenide.
Wavelength selective switching components are used in WDM optical communications networks to route (switch) signals between optical fibres on a per-wavelength basis.
A terahertz metamaterial is a class of composite metamaterials designed to interact at terahertz (THz) frequencies. The terahertz frequency range used in materials research is usually defined as 0.1 to 10 THz.
Curtain arrays are a class of large multielement directional wire radio transmitting antennas, used in the shortwave radio bands. They are a type of reflective array antenna, consisting of multiple wire dipole antennas, suspended in a vertical plane, often in front of a "curtain" reflector made of a flat vertical screen of many long parallel wires. These are suspended by support wires strung between pairs of tall steel towers, up to 300 ft (90 m) high. They are used for long-distance skywave transmission; they transmit a beam of radio waves at a shallow angle into the sky just above the horizon, which is reflected by the ionosphere back to Earth beyond the horizon. Curtain antennas are mostly used by international short wave radio stations to broadcast to large areas at transcontinental distances.
A matrix mixer is an audio electronics device that routes multiple input audio signals to multiple outputs. It usually employs level controls such as potentiometers to determine how much of each input is going to each output, and it can incorporate simple on/off assignment buttons. The number of individual controls is at least the number of inputs multiplied by the number of outputs.
David W. "Dave" Gunness is an American audio engineer, electrical engineer and inventor. He is known for his work on loudspeaker design, especially high-output professional horn loudspeakers for public address, studio, theater, nightclub, concert and touring uses.
RCF S.p.A. is a widely recognized Italian manufacturer of high performance audio products including power amplifiers, loudspeakers, digital mixers and digital signal processors (DSP).