Cubic Corporation (San Diego, CA)

Antenna arrays include a broadband single or dual polarized, tightly coupled radiator arrays.

Wideband antenna arrays that radiate antenna elements equipped to scan wide angles are important components of many current and future microwave and millimeter-wave systems. Electronic scanning removes the necessity to utilize bulkygimbals or other equipment to direct antennas. The process of electronic scanning is much faster than manual scanning. Electronic scanning is faster than manual scanning. It allows multiple antenna beams to be transmitted and received from the same aperture. It is dependent on the beamforming circuits, networks, or antennas behind it. There are several radiating-element designs that can be used to createtwo-dimensional antenna apertures such as dielectrically loaded/unloaded waveguides, slots, cavity/non-cavity backed patches and single or stacked patches. Broadband radiating antennas may be utilized to cover multiple frequencies with one aperture. In a situation where the need is they may offer continuous coverage over a large range of offerquencies or an extended frequency band. This may reduce the number of antenna apertures required in space-constrained systems and can limit the number of apertures due to the available space on some platforms that require these antennas (e.g. the unmanned aerial systems mobile phones, or unmanned aerial systems). Since the 1950s, frequency independent antennas such as sinuous or spiral antennas have been in use. However, their size and electrical power makes them unsuitable for phased arrays. In addition, interwoven, tightly coupled spiral arrays possesses the issue of polarization purity throughout their frequency range of operation. When scanning angles are less than +/-60 degrees, the unit cells of an antennaelement need to be of a width and length that is half of the wavelength. However, certain elements can be half the wavelength at the higher end of the frequency range. For scan angles that are less extreme an antenna’s spacing could be greater, possibly approaching about one wavelength in size. Several previous efforts have been undertaken to design wideband phased arrays antennas, including theoretical papers that outline infinite current sheets, how to impedance match them and the ways they could be used. Recent developments include improvements in the field of microwave electronics. Prominently among these are the currentsheet antenna invented by Munk and later commercialized by Harris Corporation based on insights obtained through research on frequencies selective surfaces. The invention currently described provides antenna elements that can be used for wideband operation in electronically scannedphased arrays that can be scanned to large angles when viewed from the broadside. These antenna elements don’t need a differential feed and can be made easily by using the most advanced manufacturing and assembly techniques. They can operate at frequencies far higher than conventional wideband array antennas. While bandwidths of 12:1 can be achieved however, these antennas are afflicted by the high energy levels that are cross-polarized within the 45-degree scanplane. They typically stand two to three wavelengths taller at the most high frequency of operation. These antennas are used for radar, communications , sensors, electronic warfare and other functions.

One feature of this invention is that it can provide broadband dual polarized dipole antennas that are tightly coupled or arrays. They could be monolithically produced using PolyStrata.RTM. processing/technology. Examples ofPolyStrata.RTM. processing/technology are illustrated in U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,948,335, 7,405,638, 7,148,772, 7,012,489, 7,649,432, 7,656,256, 7,755,174, 7,898,356 and/or U.S. Publication Nos. 2010/0109819, 2011/0210807, 2010/0296252,2011/0273241, 2011/0123783, 2011/0181376, 2011/0181377, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in their entirety (hereinafter the “incorporated Poly Strata.RTM. art”). In this context, the term “PolyStrata” is employed in connection with the structures created by or the methods detailed in, any of the included PolyStrata.RTM. art. Methods and devices that are described in this invention can create antenna arrays, which include arrays of frequency-scaled broadband elements, that include feed sections with feed posts that can be freestanding in a non-solid material like air or a vacuum and that can be configured and built using the PolyStrata.RTM. technology to form a shape that allows for impedance match and the control of capacitivecoupling. The term “freestanding” is applied to any structure that are able to support themselves in non-solid media such as liquid or air. It is possible to integrate freestanding structures in solid materials. This isn’t required to support them. The invention comprises feed sections which are manufactured and designed through PolyStrata.RTM. technology will allow precise control of the design of the feed section in order to define the impedances across the length of the feed section as well as match the impedance at the input of the active antenna element with that of the impedance of a feed circuit that drives the feed section. The control of the spacing between the components of the feed sections allows for precise control of the impedance as well as capacitive coupling in these places.

In another of its aspects, the present invention may provide radiator sections in electrical communication with the feed sections to provide antenna elements and arrays, the radiator sections configured for emitting and/or receivingelectromagnetic radiation of a selected wavelength. The radiator sections may comprise a generally planar dielectric material that is patterned with conductive radiator elements, and ground elements that are conductive which could include a printed circuit board. The ground and conductive radiators could be arranged to distribute capacitance across the length of the radiator towards the feed connections. The present invention also provides sections of radiator that can be made using metallic multilayer structures using the PolyStrata.RTM. technology. These sections of radiators can be made monolithically with the feed sections or separately as caps for radiators that can be subsequently joined to the feed sections.

In yet another of its aspects, the present invention could include antenna elements as well as arrays of such elements which are structured to be assembled in egg-crate type fashion. The components could have generally rectangular shapes which may beslid together in order to form an array that is three-dimensional. In this regard slots can be made in each of the parts and the pieces are connected by sliding slots together.

In a further of its aspects, the present invention may provide methods of forming large arrays of antenna elements using smaller arrays. This is possible due to manufacturing limitations, which may require large antenna apertures to have been built using smaller subarrays or arrays. Also, arrays may require faceted surfaces that are not plane like an airplane wings. These arrays need to be kept in a way that preserves antenna performance.

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