Antenna Product Development

Array antennas are among the most complex electromagnetic devices in existence.


  • Overview
  • Application
  • Physical Configuration
  • Electrical Properties

AOE possesses world class expertise in the development of high performance antenna array technologies for both fixed beam as well as wide-scanning phased array applications.

These applications range from terrestrial communication links for direct broadcast satellite (DBS) TV reception to advanced technology phased array radar and electronic warfare systems. AOE has developed technologies for array applications with diverse performance requirements, frequency bandwidths, polarization, and scanning capabilities.

Engineering design of array antennas must take into account many complex physical mechanisms such as mutual coupling and wave scattering. AOE use a proprietary, state-of-the-art 3D electromagnetic array field simulation software package to accurately model the array environment and accurately predict antenna performance before hardware implementation.

AOE has particular expertise in the custom development of array radiating elements that exhibit high or special performance characteristics. These include diverse patch, waveguide and Vivaldi/Notch architectures. Because of this, AOE has been selected numerous times by the Air Force, Navy and classified customers over several competing companies to develop various array aperture technologies.

These include aperture technologies that demonstrate wide-scanning, high Cross-Polarization Discrimination (XPD) characteristics as well as full-duplex, circularly polarized, dual-frequency apertures that simultaneously demonstrate scanning efficiency with high transmit/receive isolation characteristics.

AOE also possesses considerable expertise in the design and fabrication of printed antenna technology. This includes various high performance patch arrays that exhibit wide bandwidths and excellent circular polarization performance. Of particular note is a proprietary dual circularly-polarized architecture that has been developed and prototyped for the U.S. DBS television reception band.

Radar Antenna


Radar used in Lockheed F-22 Raptor

Radar antennas are among some of the most complicated antennas in existence. These antennas must be highly efficient in order to maximize the radar range. In addition, scanning phased array antennas often require wide angle scanning to maximize the coverage volume of the radar. For mapping radars and other specialty radar applications, a wide antenna instantaneous bandwidth is also often required.

AOE has particular expertise in the design and fabrication of broadband, wide scanning phased array antennas for radar applications. AOE radiating element technologies suitable for radar applications include low profile printed radiating elements, waveguide radiating elements and Vivaldi notch antenna elements. Numerous antennas have been designed by AOE and built to validate broadband performance out to 70 degree scan angles and beyond.

Satellite Communications

Satellite communication antennas encompass a variety of communication segments including ground control to satellite, satellite to satellite, and satellite to ground (and airborne) applications. AOE has experience with the design of array antennas for all of these communication segments. This experience includes the design and fabrication of 120 phased array subarrays for satellite control under the GDPAA effort, design of a multi-beam downlink phased array antenna for TSAT and design of the transmit and receive airborne satellite communication antenna set for a covert application.

Receive-Only

Receive only antennas are typically used for Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and direction finding applications. AOE has experience with the design of numerous types of receive only antennas including biconical, discone, tunable loop, spirals and other custom antenna types. These antennas are most often miniaturized and custom designed to fit within specific applications and installations.

SIGINT

With wide scanning, dual polarization capability and near ideal cosine falloff, AOE’s proprietary element architecture has been employed in Electronic Warfare (EW) and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) applications. Our custom Vivaldi/Notch antenna technology is optimized for a number of parameters to meet customer requirements including specified frequency range, minimized depth, and minimum return loss at a specified angle. Capable of multi-octave performance (2-18 GHz +) and Ultra-wideband Low-Profile Printed-Array Technologies.

AOE’s printed-array technologies are capable of multi-octave performance (2-18 GHz+) and ultra-wideband low-profile performance.

Covert

Covert antennas by their nature are almost always installed in an environment that compromises their performance. AOE has designed numerous covert antennas that make the most of the available installation environment and offers the customer the maximum possible performance from an antenna that is typically compromised in size and shape. In addition, accurate simulations realistic measurements are performed in order to assess realistic performance of the antenna in the installed environment.

Wearable (Body Worn)

AOE has developed and demonstrated several body-worn antenna architectures, including tunable body-worn antennas that operate over more than an octave of bandwidth and use the human body to enhance antenna performance. Design of body-worn antennas is particularly challenging because of the effects the body has on antenna performance.

Low Observable Antennas

The principles of AOE have a rich history of phased array antenna design for application to low observable platforms. This history includes the design of the YF-22 and JSF radar apertures, which still stand as some of the highest performing low RCS radar antennas designed and built to date. Additional low observable array designs include airborne satellite communication antennas.

As well as other classified applications.

Patch

AOE possesses considerable experience, both in the design and fabrication of patch antennas for diverse applications and frequency bands.

AOE’s state-of-the-art patch technologies stem from a strong foundational understanding of the underlying physical electromagnetic phenomenon in conjunction with high tech software field simulation. Low-cost fabrication and materials experience coupled with creative engineering innovation, lead to cost-effective patch antenna product solutions. AOE has developed patch technology for antennas of various polarization and bandwidth performance requirements.


High XPD Dual Polarized Patch Antenna for GDPAA

Under multiple Air Force SBIR programs, AOE successfully developed innovative patch architectures for highly isolated dual-band full-duplex applications as well as for apertures requiring high Cross Polarization Discrimination (XPD) performance. AOE specializes in highly efficient printed patch antenna technology.

This antenna configuration is an aperture coupled stacked patch array. It has been optimized in the frequency band where performance requirements are the greatest.

This antenna is fabricated from one of the best quality, cost competitive, commercial grade microwave materials available. An optimized design ensures that a high level of performance is achieved while avoiding the higher material and processing costs associated with Teflon-based materials.


Example: Aperture-Coupled Patch Antennas

Aperture-Coupled patch antennas can be very useful for shielding radiation from a radiating element's feed. AOE has developed numerous designs including wideband, dual polarized, and circular polarized configurations. In active phased array applications, embedding the patch feed in a multi-layer stripline manifold yields a convenient architecture where modular transmit and receive (T/R module) components can be readily integrated on the rear side of the antenna.

Notch

AOE provides high performance phased array radiating element technology capable of multi-octave performance (2-18 GHz +).

With wide scanning, dual polarization capability and near ideal cosine falloff, AOE’s proprietary element architecture has been employed in Electronic Warfare (EW) and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) applications. Our custom Vivaldi/Notch antenna technology is optimized for a number of parameters to meet customer requirements including specified frequency range, minimized depth, and minimum return loss at a specified angle.

Waveguide


AOE has developed octave bandwidth, wide scanning, waveguide based phased array antennas for numerous applications. These antennas are particularly well suited for installation in the ground plane of low Radar Cross-Section (RCS) platforms.

 

 

Loop

Loop antennas have the very desirable characteristic of being easily tuned with a variable capacitor. By using this property AOE has designed and built numerous loop antennas that are capable of tunable operation of over an octave or more of bandwidth. These antennas have consistently demonstrated stable tuning and performance within a variety of operating environments making them particularly well suited for many applications.

Biconicle

Biconical antennas are useful for achieving very wideband antenna performance similar to that of a dipole antenna but in a relatively compact package. AOE has designed and built numerous antenna perturbations based on this technology. This allows enhanced directivity in a selected direction while avoiding the typical pattern break up associated with the design becoming electrically large.

Miniature

Electrically small antennas are inherently band limited, but AOE has successfully developed many designs that achieve sufficient bandwidth in an electrically small configuration while exhibiting a stable operating frequency and good pattern performance.

Spiral

Spiral antennas belong to the class of frequency independent antennas which operate over a wide range of frequencies having a circular polarization. It will receive linearly polarized EM waves in any orientation, but will attenuate signals received with the opposite circular polarization. Polarization, radiation pattern and impedance of such antennas remains relatively constant over a large bandwidth. One application of spiral antennas is wideband communications. Another application of spiral antennas is monitoring of the frequency spectrum. One antenna can receive over a wide bandwidth, for example a ratio 18:1 and greater between the maximum and minimum frequency. Spiral antennas are also useful for microwave direction-finding.

Polarization

AOE has particular expertise in the design and fabrication of circularly polarized, dual circularly polarized and dual linear polarized antennas that exhibit very pure polarization performance. This is especially evident in some of AOE's wide scanning phased array radiating element designs where circular polarization axial ratios - typically under 2 dB- are maintained throughout a large 70 degree off broadside scan angle. Maintaining this level of polarization performance is extremely challenging due to the different scan environments seen by the electric (E) and magnetic (H) plane polarizations, but AOE has consistently demonstrated these high levels of performance with several innovative radiating element configurations.

The high level of Cross Polar Discrimination (XPD) achieved with AOE designs allow for significant reduction of unwanted cross-polarized signals as well as dual simultaneous transmission and reception of orthogonal antenna polarizations.

Tunable

AOE has designed and demonstrated numerous antenna designs that achieve wideband performance either through various active or passive components or switching circuits using MEMS-based switch technology. Examples of these designs include a broadband notch radiator array that demonstrated measured performance from 0.5–18 GHz and miniaturized tunable loop antennas that operate over more than an octave of bandwidth while maintaining better than 2:1 Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR).

Low Radar Cross-Section

AOE’s design heritage stems from the development of low Radar Cross-Section (RCS) antenna apertures.

In recent years,”AOE’s design heritage stems from the development of Low Radar Cross-Section (RCS) antenna apertures. The importance and effectiveness of low-observable technologies has been well demonstrated on the battlefield. In particular, the United States is the world leader in the development of low-observable aircraft, with the obvious examples being the B-2, F-117, and more recently the F-22 and JSF. The precise control of the electromagnetic scattering associated with low-observable vehicular design is a formidable challenge all by itself, but the challenge is significantly compounded by the introduction of the required warfare systems that must also be included with these combat aircraft. In particular, the careless introduction of even one relatively small radiating aperture can catastrophically compromise the radar signature of the low-observable host vehicle. How much more complex then is the typical scenario where multiple apertures must be introduced and some of these apertures may not be all that small?

Indeed the design and integration of low-observable antenna technologies into low-observable platforms is highly and could even be regarded a national asset. The principals at AOE have spent a good portion of their technical careers developing wideband low-observable phased-array technologies and integration and modeling methodologies. Formerly with Westinghouse / Northrop Grumman Corporation, they were the primary aperture technology developers for the ATF, F-22 and JSF low-observable radar aperture programs from 1988-1998. Their predominant focus was the development of wideband, wide-scanning low-observable radar aperture technologies. In particular, AOE’s Dr. Eric Lucas was responsible for the electromagnetic design of the notch radiating element technology supporting these high profile programs. These apertures have been demonstrated as probably the highest performing low-observable radar apertures realized in the world to date.

Electrically Small

Electrically small antennas are inherently band limited, but AOE has successfully developed many designs that achieve sufficient bandwidth in an electrically small configuration while exhibiting a stable operating frequency and good pattern performance.

Wideband

AOE has extensive expertise developing innovative wideband antennas for applications over diverse frequency bands. Of note is AOE's Vivaldi/Notch antenna technology. AOE has also extended the bandwidth and gain performance using derivatives of biconical antenna technology. With this innovative approach, bandwidth and gain are customizable over remarkable ranges.

These devices are designed for efficient, multi-octave bandwidth performance. They are easily customized for packaging as individual antennas, small clusters, and full array applications.

For applications with bandwidths less than 50%, AOE has considerable expertise in the custom development of various waveguide, cavity, and patch radiator technologies. These can be developed for low-profile applications with diverse polarization performance requirements.

AOE has developed several novel wideband patch antenna configurations that demonstrate excellent performance – exceeding 30% bandwidth. Most of these configurations employ stacked patches and are fed by pins, apertures, or proximity coupling to the feed. Many of the configurations also support dual polarization performance.

 

 
 
 
     
 
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