Microstrip antenna

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A microstrip antenna array for a satellite television receiver. Feedingstrips.jpg
A microstrip antenna array for a satellite television receiver.
Diagram of the feed structure of a microstrip antenna array. Antenna flat panel.png
Diagram of the feed structure of a microstrip antenna array.

In telecommunication, a microstrip antenna (also known as a printed antenna) usually means an antenna fabricated using microstrip techniques on a printed circuit board (PCB). [1] It is a kind of internal antenna. They are mostly used at microwave frequencies. An individual microstrip antenna consists of a patch of metal foil of various shapes (a patch antenna) on the surface of a PCB (printed circuit board), with a metal foil ground plane on the other side of the board. Most microstrip antennas consist of multiple patches in a two-dimensional array. The antenna is usually connected to the transmitter or receiver through foil microstrip transmission lines. The radio frequency current is applied (or in receiving antennas the received signal is produced) between the antenna and ground plane. Microstrip antennas have become very popular in recent decades due to their thin planar profile which can be incorporated into the surfaces of consumer products, aircraft and missiles; their ease of fabrication using printed circuit techniques; the ease of integrating the antenna on the same board with the rest of the circuit, and the possibility of adding active devices such as microwave integrated circuits to the antenna itself to make active antennas.

Telecommunication Transmission of information between locations using electromagnetics

Telecommunication is the transmission of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between communication participants includes the use of technology. It is transmitted through a transmission media, such as over physical media, for example, over electrical cable, or via electromagnetic radiation through space such as radio or light. Such transmission paths are often divided into communication channels which afford the advantages of multiplexing. Since the Latin term communicatio is considered the social process of information exchange, the term telecommunications is often used in its plural form because it involves many different technologies.

Antenna (radio) electrical device which converts electric power into radio waves, and vice versa

In radio engineering, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in metal conductors, used with a transmitter or receiver. In transmission, a radio transmitter supplies an electric current to the antenna's terminals, and the antenna radiates the energy from the current as electromagnetic waves. In reception, an antenna intercepts some of the power of a radio wave in order to produce an electric current at its terminals, that is applied to a receiver to be amplified. Antennas are essential components of all radio equipment.

Microstrip electrical transmission line for microwave-frequency signals on printed circuit board

Microstrip is a type of electrical transmission line which can be fabricated using printed circuit board technology, and is used to convey microwave-frequency signals. It consists of a conducting strip separated from a ground plane by a dielectric layer known as the substrate. Microwave components such as antennas, couplers, filters, power dividers etc. can be formed from microstrip, with the entire device existing as the pattern of metallization on the substrate. Microstrip is thus much less expensive than traditional waveguide technology, as well as being far lighter and more compact. Microstrip was developed by ITT laboratories as a competitor to stripline.

Contents

Patch antenna

The most common type of microstrip antenna is the patch antenna. Antennas using patches as constitutive elements in an array are also possible. A patch antenna is a narrowband, wide-beam antenna fabricated by etching the antenna element pattern in metal trace bonded to an insulating dielectric substrate, such as a printed circuit board, with a continuous metal layer bonded to the opposite side of the substrate which forms a ground plane. Common microstrip antenna shapes are square, rectangular, circular and elliptical, but any continuous shape is possible. Some patch antennas do not use a dielectric substrate and instead are made of a metal patch mounted above a ground plane using dielectric spacers; the resulting structure is less rugged but has a wider bandwidth. Because such antennas have a very low profile, are mechanically rugged and can be shaped to conform to the curving skin of a vehicle, they are often mounted on the exterior of aircraft and spacecraft, or are incorporated into mobile radio communications devices.

Patch antenna

A patch antenna is a type of radio antenna with a low profile, which can be mounted on a flat surface. It consists of a flat rectangular sheet or "patch" of metal, mounted over a larger sheet of metal called a ground plane. They are the original type of microstrip antenna described by Howell in 1972; the two metal sheets together form a resonant piece of microstrip transmission line with a length of approximately one-half wavelength of the radio waves. The radiation mechanism arises from discontinuities at each truncated edge of the microstrip transmission line. The radiation at the edges causes the antenna to act slightly larger electrically than its physical dimensions, so in order for the antenna to be resonant, a length of microstrip transmission line slightly shorter than one-half the wavelength at the frequency is used. The patch antenna is mainly practical at microwave frequencies, at which wavelengths are short enough that the patches are conveniently small. It is widely used in portable wireless devices because of the ease of fabricating it on printed circuit boards. Multiple patch antennas on the same substrate (see image) called microstrip antennas, can be used to make high gain array antennas, and phased arrays in which the beam can be electronically steered.

Light beam Projection of light energy

A light beam or beam of light is a directional projection of light energy radiating from a light source. Sunlight forms a light beam when filtered through media such as clouds, foliage, or windows. To artificially produce a light beam, a lamp and a parabolic reflector is used in many lighting devices such as spotlights, car headlights, PAR Cans and LED housings. Light from certain types of laser has the smallest possible beam divergence.

Dielectric electrically poorly conducting or non-conducting, non-metallic substance of which charge carriers are generally not free to move

A dielectric is an electrical insulator that can be polarized by an applied electric field. When a dielectric is placed in an electric field, electric charges do not flow through the material as they do in an electrical conductor but only slightly shift from their average equilibrium positions causing dielectric polarization. Because of dielectric polarization, positive charges are displaced in the direction of the field and negative charges shift in the opposite direction. This creates an internal electric field that reduces the overall field within the dielectric itself. If a dielectric is composed of weakly bonded molecules, those molecules not only become polarized, but also reorient so that their symmetry axes align to the field.

Advantages

Microstrip antennas are relatively inexpensive to manufacture and design because of the simple 2-dimensional physical geometry. They are usually employed at UHF and higher frequencies because the size of the antenna is directly tied to the wavelength at the resonant frequency. A single patch antenna provides a maximum directive gain of around 6-9 dBi. It is relatively easy to print an array of patches on a single (large) substrate using lithographic techniques. Patch arrays can provide much higher gains than a single patch at little additional cost; matching and phase adjustment can be performed with printed microstrip feed structures, again in the same operations that form the radiating patches. The ability to create high gain arrays in a low-profile antenna is one reason that patch arrays are common on airplanes and in other military applications.

Wavelength spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the waves shape repeats, and thus the inverse of the spatial frequency

In physics, the wavelength is the spatial period of a periodic wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats. It is thus the inverse of the spatial frequency. Wavelength is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings and is a characteristic of both traveling waves and standing waves, as well as other spatial wave patterns. Wavelength is commonly designated by the Greek letter lambda (λ). The term wavelength is also sometimes applied to modulated waves, and to the sinusoidal envelopes of modulated waves or waves formed by interference of several sinusoids.

Resonance phenomenon in which a vibrating system or external force drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at specific frequencies

In mechanical systems, resonance is a phenomenon that only occurs when the frequency at which a force is periodically applied is equal or nearly equal to one of the natural frequencies of the system on which it acts. This causes the system to oscillate with larger amplitude than when the force is applied at other frequencies.

The decibel is a unit of measurement used to express the ratio of one value of a power or field quantity to another on a logarithmic scale, the logarithmic quantity being called the power level or field level, respectively. It can be used to express a change in value or an absolute value. In the latter case, it expresses the ratio of a value to a fixed reference value; when used in this way, a suffix that indicates the reference value is often appended to the decibel symbol. For example, if the reference value is 1 volt, then the suffix is "V", and if the reference value is one milliwatt, then the suffix is "m".

Such an array of patch antennas is an easy way to make a phased array of antennas with dynamic beamforming ability. [2]

Phased array type of array of antennas

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.

Beamforming signal processing technique used in sensor arrays for directional signal transmission or reception

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.

An advantage inherent to patch antennas is the ability to have polarization diversity. Patch antennas can easily be designed to have vertical, horizontal, right hand circular (RHCP) or left hand circular (LHCP) polarizations, using multiple feed points, or a single feedpoint with asymmetric patch structures. [3] This unique property allows patch antennas to be used in many types of communications links that may have varied requirements.

Polarization (waves) property of waves that can oscillate with more than one orientation

Polarization is a property applying to transverse waves that specifies the geometrical orientation of the oscillations. In a transverse wave, the direction of the oscillation is perpendicular to the direction of motion of the wave. A simple example of a polarized transverse wave is vibrations traveling along a taut string (see image); for example, in a musical instrument like a guitar string. Depending on how the string is plucked, the vibrations can be in a vertical direction, horizontal direction, or at any angle perpendicular to the string. In contrast, in longitudinal waves, such as sound waves in a liquid or gas, the displacement of the particles in the oscillation is always in the direction of propagation, so these waves do not exhibit polarization. Transverse waves that exhibit polarization include electromagnetic waves such as light and radio waves, gravitational waves, and transverse sound waves in solids.

Rectangular patch

The most commonly employed microstrip antenna is a rectangular patch which looks like a truncated microstrip transmission line. It is approximately of one-half wavelength long. When air is used as the dielectric substrate, the length of the rectangular microstrip antenna is approximately one-half of a free-space wavelength. As the antenna is loaded with a dielectric as its substrate, the length of the antenna decreases as the relative dielectric constant of the substrate increases. The resonant length of the antenna is slightly shorter because of the extended electric "fringing fields" which increase the electrical length of the antenna slightly. An early model of the microstrip antenna is a section of microstrip transmission line with equivalent loads on either end to represent the radiation loss.

Specifications

The dielectric loading of a microstrip antenna affects both its radiation pattern and impedance bandwidth. As the dielectric constant of the substrate increases, the antenna bandwidth decreases which increases the Q factor of the antenna and therefore decreases the impedance bandwidth. This relationship did not immediately follow when using the transmission line model of the antenna, but is apparent when using the cavity model which was introduced in the late 1970s by Lo et al. [4] The radiation from a rectangular microstrip antenna may be understood as a pair of equivalent slots. These slots act as an array and have the highest directivity when the antenna has an air dielectric and decreases as the antenna is loaded by material with increasing relative dielectric constant.

The half-wave rectangular microstrip antenna has a virtual shorting plane along its center. This may be replaced with a physical shorting plane to create a quarter-wavelength microstrip antenna. This is sometimes called a half-patch. The antenna only has a single radiation edge (equivalent slot) which lowers the directivity/gain of the antenna. The impedance bandwidth is slightly lower than a half-wavelength full patch as the coupling between radiating edges has been eliminated.

Other types

Another type of patch antenna is the planar inverted-F antenna (PIFA). The PIFA is common in cellular phones (mobile phones) with built-in antennas. [5] [6] The antenna is resonant at a quarter-wavelength (thus reducing the required space needed on the phone), and also typically has good SAR properties. This antenna resembles an inverted F, which explains the PIFA name. The PIFA is popular because it has a low profile and an omnidirectional pattern. [7] These antennas are derived from a quarter-wave half-patch antenna. The shorting plane of the half-patch is reduced in length which decreases the resonance frequency. [8] Often PIFA antennas have multiple branches to resonate at the various cellular bands. On some phones, grounded parasitic elements are used to enhance the radiation bandwidth characteristics.

The folded inverted conformal antenna (FICA) [9] has some advantages with respect to the PIFA, because it allows a better volume reuse.

Related Research Articles

Microwave form of electromagnetic radiation

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from about one meter to one millimeter; with frequencies between 300 MHz (1 m) and 300 GHz (1 mm). Different sources define different frequency ranges as microwaves; the above broad definition includes both UHF and EHF bands. A more common definition in radio engineering is the range between 1 and 100 GHz. In all cases, microwaves include the entire SHF band at minimum. Frequencies in the microwave range are often referred to by their IEEE radar band designations: S, C, X, Ku, K, or Ka band, or by similar NATO or EU designations.

Electrical length

In telecommunications and electrical engineering, electrical length refers to the length of an electrical conductor in terms of the phase shift introduced by transmission over that conductor at some frequency.

Log-periodic antenna multi-element, directional antenna

A log-periodic antenna (LP), also known as a log-periodic array or log-periodic aerial, is a multi-element, directional antenna designed to operate over a wide band of frequencies. It was invented by Dwight Isbell and Raymond DuHamel at the University of Illinois in 1958.

Unbalanced line

In electrical engineering, an unbalanced line is a transmission line, often coaxial cable, whose conductors have unequal impedances with respect to ground; as opposed to a balanced line. Microstrip and single-wire lines are also unbalanced lines.

Monopole antenna type of radio antenna

A monopole antenna is a class of radio antenna consisting of a straight rod-shaped conductor, often mounted perpendicularly over some type of conductive surface, called a ground plane. The driving signal from the transmitter is applied, or for receiving antennas the output signal to the receiver is taken, between the lower end of the monopole and the ground plane. One side of the antenna feedline is attached to the lower end of the monopole, and the other side is attached to the ground plane, which is often the Earth. This contrasts with a dipole antenna which consists of two identical rod conductors, with the signal from the transmitter applied between the two halves of the antenna.

The spurline is a type of radio-frequency and microwave distributed element filter with band-stop (notch) characteristics, most commonly used with microstrip transmission lines. Spurlines usually exhibit moderate to narrow-band rejection, at about 10% around the central frequency.

Stripline transverse electromagnetic (TEM) transmission line

Stripline is a transverse electromagnetic (TEM) transmission line medium invented by Robert M. Barrett of the Air Force Cambridge Research Centre in the 1950s. Stripline is the earliest form of planar transmission line.

A dielectric resonator antenna (DRA) is a radio antenna mostly used at microwave frequencies and higher, that consists of a block of ceramic material of various shapes, the dielectric resonator, mounted on a metal surface, a ground plane. Radio waves are introduced into the inside of the resonator material from the transmitter circuit and bounce back and forth between the resonator walls, forming standing waves. The walls of the resonator are partially transparent to radio waves, allowing the radio power to radiate into space.

The folded inverted conformal antenna (FICA) belongs to the microstrip antenna family. The FICA placement on the handset board and its feeding mechanisms are similar to those used currently for the great majority of handsets with internal planar inverted-F antenna (PIFA) components. Whereas multiband PIFAs exhibit two resonant modes, which operate by sharing the same available antenna volume, the FICA structure is synthesised in order to sustain three resonant modes that better reuse the volume. The implementation of volume reuse allows spreading of the reactive electromagnetic energy associated with each resonant mode across the entire antenna volume. This results in FICA modes exhibiting a lower Q factor and a wider fractional bandwidth than the corresponding PIFA modes.

Distributed element filter

A distributed element filter is an electronic filter in which capacitance, inductance and resistance are not localised in discrete capacitors, inductors and resistors as they are in conventional filters. Its purpose is to allow a range of signal frequencies to pass, but to block others. Conventional filters are constructed from inductors and capacitors, and the circuits so built are described by the lumped element model, which considers each element to be "lumped together" at one place. That model is conceptually simple, but it becomes increasingly unreliable as the frequency of the signal increases, or equivalently as the wavelength decreases. The distributed element model applies at all frequencies, and is used in transmission line theory; many distributed element components are made of short lengths of transmission line. In the distributed view of circuits, the elements are distributed along the length of conductors and are inextricably mixed together. The filter design is usually concerned only with inductance and capacitance, but because of this mixing of elements they cannot be treated as separate "lumped" capacitors and inductors. There is no precise frequency above which distributed element filters must be used but they are especially associated with the microwave band.

Metamaterial antenna

Metamaterial antennas are a class of antennas which use metamaterials to increase performance of miniaturized antenna systems. Their purpose, as with any electromagnetic antenna, is to launch energy into free space. However, this class of antenna incorporates metamaterials, which are materials engineered with novel, often microscopic, structures to produce unusual physical properties. Antenna designs incorporating metamaterials can step-up the antenna's radiated power.

Tunable metamaterial

A tunable metamaterial is a metamaterial with a variable response to an incident electromagnetic wave. This includes remotely controlling how an incident electromagnetic wave interacts with a metamaterial. This means the capability to determine whether the EM wave is transmitted, reflected, or absorbed. In general, the lattice structure of the tunable metamaterial is adjustable in real time, making it possible to reconfigure a metamaterial device during operation. It encompasses developments beyond the bandwidth limitations in left-handed materials by constructing various types of metamaterials. The ongoing research in this domain includes electromagnetic materials that are very meta which mean good and has a band gap metamaterials (EBG), also known as photonic band gap (PBG), and negative refractive index material (NIM).

A via fence, also called a picket fence, is a structure used in planar electronic circuit technologies to improve isolation between components which would otherwise be coupled by electromagnetic fields. It consists of a row of via holes which, if spaced close enough together, form a barrier to electromagnetic wave propagation of slab modes in the substrate. Additionally if radiation in the air above the board is also to be suppressed, then a strip pad with via fence allows a shielding can to be electrically attached to the top side, but electrically behave as if it continued through the PCB.

Planar transmission line Transmission lines with flat ribbon-like conducting or dielectric lines

Planar transmission lines are transmission lines with conductors, or in some cases dielectric (insulating) strips, that are flat, ribbon-shaped lines. They are used to interconnect components on printed circuits and integrated circuits working at microwave frequencies because the planar type fits in well with the manufacturing methods for these components. Transmission lines are more than simply interconnections. With simple interconnections, the propagation of the electromagnetic wave along the wire is fast enough to be considered instantaneous, and the voltages at each end of the wire can be considered identical. If the wire is longer than a large fraction of a wavelength, these assumptions are no longer true and transmission line theory must be used instead. With transmission lines, the geometry of the line is precisely controlled so that its electrical behaviour is highly predictable. At lower frequencies, these considerations are only necessary for the cables connecting different pieces of equipment, but at microwave frequencies the distance at which transmission line theory becomes necessary is measured in millimetres. Hence, transmission lines are needed within circuits.

Inverted-F antenna

An inverted-F antenna is a type of antenna used in wireless communication. It consists of a monopole antenna running parallel to a ground plane and grounded at one end. The antenna is fed from an intermediate point a distance from the grounded end. The design has two advantages over a simple monopole: the antenna is shorter and more compact, and the impedance matching can be controlled by the designer without the need for extraneous matching components.

Distributed element circuit

Distributed element circuits are electrical circuits composed of lengths of transmission lines or other distributed components. These circuits perform the same functions as conventional circuits composed of passive components, such as capacitors, inductors, and transformers. They are used mostly at microwave frequencies, where conventional components are difficult to implement.

In radio systems, many different antenna types are used with specialized properties for particular applications. Antennas can be classified in various ways. The list below groups together antennas under common operating principles, following the way antennas are classified in many engineering textbooks.

References

  1. Lee, Kai Fong,; Luk, Kwai Man (2011). Microstrip Patch Antennas. World Scientific. pp. 8–12. ISBN   184816453X.
  2. "Welcome to antennas 101" by Louis E. Frenzel, "Electronic Design" 2008
  3. Bancroft, R. Microstrip and Printed Antenna Design Noble Publishing 2004, chapter 2-3
  4. Lo, Y.T., Solomon D. and Richards, W.F. "Theory and Experiment on Microstrip Antennas," IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, AP-27, 1979 pp. 137-149.
  5. "PIFA - The Planar Inverted-F Antenna".
  6. Iulian Rosu. "PIFA – Planar Inverted F Antenna".
  7. Taga, T. Tsunekawa, K. and Saski, A., "Antennas for Detachable Mobile Radio Units," Review of the ECL, NTT, Japan, Vol. 35, No.1, January 1987, pp. 59-65.
  8. "Inverted-F Antenna (IFA)" at antenna-theory.com
  9. Di Nallo, C.; Faraone, A., "Multiband internal antenna for mobile phones," Electronics Letters , vol.41, no.9, pp. 514-515, 28 April 2005