Reconfigurable antenna

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Reconfigurable antenna using a pixel architecture capable of reconfiguring dynamically its frequency of operation, radiation pattern and polarization. Reconfigurable pixel antenna.jpg
Reconfigurable antenna using a pixel architecture capable of reconfiguring dynamically its frequency of operation, radiation pattern and polarization.

A reconfigurable antenna is an antenna capable of modifying its frequency and radiation properties dynamically, in a controlled and reversible manner. [2] In order to provide a dynamic response, reconfigurable antennas integrate an inner mechanism (such as RF switches, varactors, mechanical actuators or tunable materials) that enable the intentional redistribution of the RF currents over the antenna surface and produce reversible modifications of its properties. Reconfigurable antennas differ from smart antennas because the reconfiguration mechanism lies inside the antenna, rather than in an external beamforming network. The reconfiguration capability of reconfigurable antennas is used to maximize the antenna performance in a changing scenario or to satisfy changing operating requirements.

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.

RF switch

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.

Varicap semiconductor diode used as voltage-controlled capacitor

In electronics, a varicap diode, varactor diode, variable capacitance diode, variable reactance diode or tuning diode is a type of diode designed to exploit the voltage-dependent capacitance of a reverse-biased p–n junction.


Types of antenna reconfiguration

Reconfigurable antennas can be classified according to the antenna parameter that is dynamically adjusted, typically the frequency of operation, radiation pattern or polarization. [3]

Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an alternating electric current or voltage or of a magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency range from around twenty thousand times per second to around three hundred billion times per second. This is roughly between the upper limit of audio frequencies and the lower limit of infrared frequencies; these are the frequencies at which energy from an oscillating current can radiate off a conductor into space as radio waves. Different sources specify different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range.

Radiation pattern electromagnetism

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.

Frequency reconfiguration

Frequency reconfigurable antennas can adjust their frequency of operation dynamically. They are particularly useful in situations where several communications systems converge because the multiple antennas required can be replaced by a single reconfigurable antenna. Frequency reconfiguration is generally achieved by physical or electrical modifications to the antenna dimensions using RF-switches, [4] impedance loading [5] or tunable materials. [6]

Radiation pattern reconfiguration

Radiation pattern reconfigurability is based on the intentional modification of the spherical distribution of the radiation pattern. Beam steering is the most extended application and consists of steering the direction of maximum radiation to maximize the antenna gain in a link with mobile devices. Pattern reconfigurable antennas are usually designed using movable/rotatable structures [7] [8] or switchable and reactively-loaded parasitic elements. [9] [10] [11] In the last 10 years, metamaterial-based reconfigurable antennas have gained attention due their small form factor, wide beam steering range and wireless applications. [12] [13]

Beam steering

Beam steering is about changing the direction of the main lobe of a radiation pattern.

Passive radiator

In a radio antenna, a passive radiator or parasitic element is a conductive element, typically a metal rod, which is not electrically connected to anything else. Multielement antennas such as the Yagi-Uda antenna typically consist of a "driven element" which is connected to the radio receiver or transmitter through a feed line, and parasitic elements, which are not. The purpose of the parasitic elements is to modify the radiation pattern of the radio waves emitted by the driven element, directing them in a beam in one direction, increasing the antenna's directivity (gain). A parasitic element does this by acting as a passive resonator, something like a guitar's sound box, absorbing the radio waves from the nearby driven element and re-radiating them again with a different phase. The waves from the different antenna elements interfere, strengthening the antenna's radiation in the desired direction, and cancelling out the waves in undesired directions.

Polarization reconfiguration

Polarization reconfigurable antennas are capable of switching between different polarization modes. The capability of switching between horizontal, vertical and circular polarizations can be used to reduce polarization mismatch losses in portable devices. Polarization reconfigurability can be provided by changing the balance between the different modes of a multimode structure. [14]

Compound reconfiguration

Compound reconfiguration is the capability of simultaneously tuning several antenna parameters, for instance frequency and radiation pattern. The most common application of compound reconfiguration is the combination of frequency agility and beam-scanning to provide improved spectral efficiencies. Compound reconfigurability is achieved by combining in the same structure different single-parameter reconfiguration techniques [15] [16] or by reshaping dynamically a pixel surface. [1] [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

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In telecommunications and radar, a Cassegrain antenna is a parabolic antenna in which the feed antenna is mounted at or behind the surface of the concave main parabolic reflector dish and is aimed at a smaller convex secondary reflector suspended in front of the primary reflector. The beam of radio waves from the feed illuminates the secondary reflector, which reflects it back to the main reflector dish, which reflects it forward again to form the desired beam. The Cassegrain design is widely used in parabolic antennas, particularly in large antennas such as those in satellite ground stations, radio telescopes, and communication satellites.

Parabolic antenna type of antenna

A parabolic antenna is an antenna that uses a parabolic reflector, a curved surface with the cross-sectional shape of a parabola, to direct the radio waves. The most common form is shaped like a dish and is popularly called a dish antenna or parabolic dish. The main advantage of a parabolic antenna is that it has high directivity. It functions similarly to a searchlight or flashlight reflector to direct the radio waves in a narrow beam, or receive radio waves from one particular direction only. Parabolic antennas have some of the highest gains, meaning that they can produce the narrowest beamwidths, of any antenna type. In order to achieve narrow beamwidths, the parabolic reflector must be much larger than the wavelength of the radio waves used, so parabolic antennas are used in the high frequency part of the radio spectrum, at UHF and microwave (SHF) frequencies, at which the wavelengths are small enough that conveniently-sized reflectors can be used.

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Physical optics

In physics, physical optics, or wave optics, is the branch of optics that studies interference, diffraction, polarization, and other phenomena for which the ray approximation of geometric optics is not valid. This usage tends not to include effects such as quantum noise in optical communication, which is studied in the sub-branch of coherence theory.

Conical scanning

Conical scanning is a system used in early radar units to improve their accuracy, as well as making it easier to steer the antenna properly to point at a target. Conical scanning is similar in concept to the earlier lobe switching concept used on some of the earliest radars, and many examples of lobe switching sets were modified in the field to conical scanning during World War II, notably the German Würzburg radar. Antenna guidance can be made entirely automatic, as in the American SCR-584. Potential failure modes and susceptibility to deception jamming led to the replacement of conical scan systems with monopulse radar sets. They are still used by the Deep Space Network for maintaining communications links to space probes. The spin-stabilized Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 probes used onboard conical scanning maneuvers to track Earth in its orbit.

Radio-frequency microelectromechanical system

A radio-frequency microelectromechanical system (RFMEMS) is a microelectromechanical systems with electronic components comprising moving sub-millimeter-sized parts that provide radio-frequency (RF) functionality. RF functionality can be implemented using a variety of RF technologies. Besides RF MEMS technology, III-V compound semiconductor, ferrite, ferroelectric, silicon-based semiconductor, and vacuum tube technology are available to the RF designer. Each of the RF technologies offers a distinct trade-off between cost, frequency, gain, large-scale integration, lifetime, linearity, noise figure, packaging, power handling, power consumption, reliability, ruggedness, size, supply voltage, switching time and weight.

Vivaldi antenna

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Terahertz metamaterial

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Metamaterial antenna

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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).

History of metamaterials

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