Low-profile, modular, ultra-wideband phased arrays
Ultrawideband (UWB) phased antenna arrays are critical to the success of future multi-functional communication, sensing, and countermeasure systems, which will utilize a few UWB phased arrays in place of multiple antennas on a platform. The success of this new systems approach relies in part on the ability to manufacture and assemble low-cost UWB phased arrays with excellent radiation characteristics.
This dissertation presents the theory and design of a new class of UWB arrays that is based on unbalanced fed tightly-coupled horizontal dipoles over a ground plane. Practical implementation of this concept leads to two inexpensive wideband array topologies, the Banyan Tree Antenna (BTA) Array, and the Planar Ultrawideband Modular Antenna (PUMA) Array. The key challenge in designing unbalanced-fed tightly-coupled dipole arrays lies in the control of a common mode resonance that destroys UWB performance. This work introduces a novel feeding strategy that eliminates this resonance and results in wideband, wide-angle radiation. More importantly, the new feeding scheme is simple and intuitive, and can be implemented at low-cost in both vertically- and planarly-integrated phased array architectures. Another desirable byproduct of this topology is the electrical and mechanical modularity of the aperture, which enables easy manufacturability and assembly. A theoretical framework is presented for the new phased array topologies, which is then applied to the design of infinite BTA and PUMA arrays that achieve 4:1 and 5:1 bandwidths, respectively. A practical application of this technology is demonstrated through the full design, fabrication, and measurement of a 7.25–21GHz 16x16 dual-polarized PUMA array prototype for SATCOM applications.