You are on page 1of 25

INTRODUCTION On earth we live upon an island of "ordinary" matter.

The different states of matter generally found on earth are solid, liquid, and gas. Sir William Crookes, an English physicist identified a fourth state of matter, now called plasma, in 1879. Plasma is by far the most common form of matter. Plasma in the stars and in the tenuous space between them makes up over 99% of the visible universe and perhaps most of that which is not visible. Important to ASI's technology, plasmas are conductive assemblies of charged and neutral particles and fields that exhibit collective effects. Plasmas carry electrical currents and generate magnetic fields. When the Plasma Antenna Research Laboratory at ANU investigated the feasibility of plasma antennas as low radar cross-section radiating elements, Red centre established a network between DSTO ANU researchers, CEA Technologies, Cantec Australasia and Neolite Neon for further development and future commercialization of this technology. The plasma antenna R & D project has proceeded over the last year at the Australian National University in response to a DSTO ( Defence Science and Technology Organization) contract to develop a new antenna solution that minimizes antenna detectability by radar. Since then, an investigation of the wider technical issues of existing antenna systems has revealed areas where plasma antennas might be useful. The project attracts the interest of the industrial groups involved in such diverse areas as fluorescent lighting, telecommunications and radar. Plasma antennas have a number of potential advantages for antenna design. When a plasma element is not energized, it is difficult to detect by radar. Even when it is energized, it is transparent to the transmissions above the plasma frequency, which falls in the microwave region. Plasma elements can be energized and de energized in seconds, which prevents signal degradation. When a particular plasma element is not energized, its radiation does not affect nearby elements. HF CDMA Plasma antennas will have low probability of intercept (LP) and low probability of detection (LPD) in HF communications.

PLASMA ANTENNA TECHNOLOGY Since the discovery of radio frequency ("RF") transmission, antenna design has been an integral part of virtually every communication and radar application. Technology has advanced to provide unique antenna designs for applications ranging from general broadcast of radiofrequency signals for public use to complex weapon systems. In its most common form, an antenna represents a conducting metal surface that is sized to emit radiation at one or more selected frequencies. Antennas must be efficient so the maximum amount of signal strength is expended in the propagated wave and not wasted in antenna reflection. Plasma antenna technology employs ionized gas enclosed in a tube (or other enclosure) as the conducting element of an antenna. This is a

fundamental change from traditional antenna design that generally employs solid metal wires as the conducting element. Ionized gas is an efficient conducting element with a number of important advantages. Since the gas is ionized only for the time of transmission or reception, "ringing" and associated effects of solid wire antenna design are eliminated. The design allows for extremely short pulses, important to many forms of digital communication and radars. The design further provides the opportunity to construct an antenna that can be compact and dynamically reconfigured for frequency, direction, bandwidth, gain and beam width. Plasma antenna technology will enable antennas to be designed that are efficient, low in weight and smaller in size than traditional solid wire antennas. When gas is electrically charged, or ionized to a plasma state it becomes conductive, allowing radio frequency (RF) signals to be transmitted or received. We employ ionized gases closed in a tube as the conducting element of an antenna. When the gas is not ionized, the antenna element ceases to exist. This is a fundamental change from traditional antenna design that generally employs solid metal wires as the conducting element. We believe our plasma antenna offers numerous advantages including stealth for military applications and higher digital performance in commercial applications. We also believe our technology can compete in many \metal antenna applications. Our initial efforts have focused on military markets. GeneralDynamics' Electric Boat Corporation sponsored over $160,000 of development in 2000accounting for substantially all of our revenues.Initial studies have concluded that a plasma antenna's performance is equal to a copperwire antenna in every respect. Plasma antennas can be used for any transmission and/ormodulation technique: continuous wave (CW), phase modulation, impulse, AM, FM, chirp,spread spectrum or other digital techniques. And the plasma antenna can be used over a largefrequency range up to 20GHz and employ a wide variety of gases (for example neon, argon,helium, krypton, mercury vapor and zenon). The same is true as to its value as a receive antenna. 4 Chapter 33. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP A 100-400 Watt radio frequency source (3.7 MHz to 32 MHz) is used to form an RFdischarge in various gases, in a 35cm long and 3 cm diameter glass tube. The glass tube isconnected to a combined system of rotary and diffusion pump. The system is evacuated to a basepressure of 5 10-5 mbar, then filled with argon gas to various working pressures. The dischargeis initiated by a single capacitive coupler of length 3.5 cm mounted at one end of the tube. Thiscapacitive coupler is EM shielded. Plasma column is also formed with different gases such as air,nitrogen and oxygen. Experiments

which can be used for communication. The tone signal of 6KHz generated through decoders according to hand shaking signals from singling circuit.7 MHz to Intermediatefrequency (IF) filter and amplifier at 46 MHz.2 BLOCK DIGRAM OF COMMUNICATION SYSTEM 6 Chapter 44. Lower oscillator (LO) is10. Duplexer is connected 5cm above from thecapacitive coupler because 5cm is the calculated minimum distance where measurements are not4 affected by EM radiation by capacitive coupler.2 dB for 46 MHz and isolation 80 dB for 49 MHz.7 MHz higher than through Low Noise Amplifier(LNA).Fig.are performed for different plasma conditions.1 Surface wave driven plasma column. 46 MHz passes through Rxfilters of duplexer. Fig.2 shows the block diagram of communication system with plasma antenna.The speech or information signal of frequency 300 Hz to 3400 Hz is generated throughMIC. In this systemplasma antenna is used for communication.400 watts input power by RF generator. . Notchfilter will block all other frequencies than 6 KHz to go to tone decoder to give signal for ring orON/OFF or Hook status. Therefore carrier frequency is 49 MHz isamplified and fed Tx filters of Duplexer. therefore oscillator frequency 12.155 MHz) 11. 10. Lower oscillator gives 10.2 dB for 49 MHz and 80 dB isolation for 46 MHz and Tx filter of insertion loss0.1. Fig. Audio filter will block 6 KHz andallow 300 – 3400 Hz to go to audio amplifier and amplified signal send to Loudspeaker. The 5 speech signal and handshaking signal are mixed and fed to variac diode of X-tal oscillator forfrequency modulation. Mixer is consists of Lower oscillator (LO)which is 10. This plasma column acts as antenna due to surface wave induced current. Surface waveis driven by 5 MHz-32 MHz frequency and 100. Th experimentis done for showing that plasma column act as antenna. Basic frequency is 49/4 MHz. From plasma antenna.7 MHz frequency is filtered and amplified andagain it is given to second Mixer to get 455 KHz using Lower oscillator of (10.7 MHz high than RF input and mixed. Now 455 KHz IM carries informationwhich is discriminated to get 6 KHz and 300 to 3400 Hz. This signal is amplified and filtered by Audio amplifier and filter.25 MHz. This 46 MHz signal send to Mixer.7 MHz + 544KHz = 11.This signal is passed in frequency multiplier by 4.155 MHz and IF of 455 KHz. Duplexer is the combination of Rx filter of insertion loss 0. Hencethe column is called the surface wave driven plasma column is shown in Fig.

ground penetrating radar. The plasma antenna's advantages over conventional metal elements are mostobvious in military applications where stealth and electronic warfare are primary concerns. Unmanned air vehicle sensor antennas. Stealth aircraft antenna replacements. size and the ability to reconfigure.Plasma antenna technology has commercial applications in telemetry. ECM (electronic counter-measure) antennas.MARKET APPLICATIONS OF PLASMA TECHNOLOGY Plasma antennas offer distinct advantages and can compete with most metal antennaapplications. IFF ("identification friend or foe") land-based vehicle antennas. EMI/ECI mitigation Detection and tracking of ballistic missiles Side and back lobe reductionMilitary antenna installations can be quite sophisticated and just the antenna portion of acommunications or radar installation on a ship or submarine can cost in the millions of dollars. Broad band jamming equipment including for spread-spectrum emitters. Phased array element replacements. high-speed data (for example Internet) . weather radar. navigation. wind shear detection andcollision avoidance. Potential militaryapplications include: Shipboard/submarine antenna replacements. broadbandcommunications. Otherimportant military factors are weight.

Plasma density and electron temperature is measured. Theplasma column of length of 35 cm is formed by surface wave discharge. 8 The length of plasma column depends on input power used to drive the surface wave.The plasma density and temperature of all gases such as oxygen. Fig4 shows that the length of plasma column (0 cm to 35 cm) increases with input power (0 to 40watt). Hence thecolumn is called the surface wave driven plasma column.6 1010 per cc and 5. Themeasured value of the density is computed from measured ion saturation current. Theprobe is inserted from a end of the glass tube. and cellular radiation protection. The plasma density decreases away from the RF exciter. 7 Chapter 55. Plasma densityand electron temperature are typically measured as 5. air and argon areobserved to be almost same for same external parameters and probe position. The plasma density is 8 1010 per c.5 eV respectively.2 shows thatdensity profile along the axis of the glass tube.3 Axial density profile 5. the electron temperature is obtained. Fig . and 4 1010 per c. There is no external magnetic field. The probe is manually biased from – 100 to +100volts. The characterization of surface wave inour system is given below.c.2 SURFACE WAVE DRIVEN PLASMA COLUMN:The plasma is formed by rf field ( 5 MHz to 32 MHz) at the capacitive coupler. at 5 cm.c.communication spread spectrumcommunication. This surface wave isdriven by 5 to 32 MHz frequency and 100 to 400 watts input power by rf generator.3mm. By evaluating the slope of the I-V characteristics. placedat one end. It is measured by changing the position of theprobe from one end to the other. nitrogen.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF PLASMA COLUMN:The plasma column of different gases is characterized by using standard Langmuir probeof length 5mm and radius 0. at 30 cm. MEASURMENTS AND RESULTS 5. Fig. Fig. at constant working pressure. awayfrom the RF exciter. Surfacewave excites at the interface of plasma and glass tube.

. 4 varia t ion in leng t h o f plasma c o l u mn wi t h inpu t p o we r a t di ff eren t cosn t an t working pressure and t he .

05 mbar) atconstant input power.leng t h o f glass t ube is 35 cm . The length of plasma column also depends on working pressure (.02 mbar to . the field components of surface wave aremeasured by standard dipole probe and loop probe on the surface of glass tube.5.5 Variation in length of plasma antenna with working pressure at . Fig. that magnitude of electric and magnetic field decreases along the axis of plasma column which is shown in (Fig. which is shown in Fig.6).

w=35 watt and the length of glass tube is 35 cm. 9 Fig.constant input power.6 Axial electric field profile on the surface of .

Fig.7 shows surface wave field intensity as a function of the azimuthal angel . It isobserved to be reasonably axisymmetric so azimuthal wave number is m=0 The power level of fundamental harmonic decays along the axis of plasma column. Fig. which is measured by disc probe on the surface of glass tube using spectrum analyzer.50cm) from the end of plasma column where the source issituated. This indicates damping orattenuation of the wave inside the dielectric.atdifferent heights ( 5cm.plasma antenna .15cm. It deposits wave power to the plasma to form a 35 cm long plasma column.10cm. 7 A z i mu t hal f ield pa tt ern o f p l a s ma an t . Fig . Azimuthal field pattern of the plasma column is measured by moving probe in thehorizontal plane around the plasma column in 15 degree increment from00 3600 .8 shows that the power level at 5 MHz decreases from – 8dBm to – 15 dBm along the axis of the plasma column. The above experimental results show thataxisymmetric electromagnetic surface wave is propagating along the interface of plasma andglass tube.

enna a t di ff eren t heigh t s f rom t he source o ft he p l a s ma an t enna 10 Fig.8 Variation in power level of f u n d a me n t a l .

Surface current is distributed on the interface of plasma and glasstube.h a r mo n i c at f =5MHz along the axis of plasma antenna.9 Current distribution on the surface of plasma column at different . which ismeasured by using shielded and calibrated Rogowaski coil which is mounted on the outer surfaceof the glass tube. The axial current distribution on the surface of plasma column is shown in Fig. 5. Fig.9.3 PLASMA COLUMNS AS MONOPOLE ANTENNA:This surface wave driven plasma column acts as an antenna due to associated surfacecurrent with surface wave.

11).9. As seen clearly. Fig . There are 20 harmonicson the surface of plasma antenna having higher power than background power level (-80 dBm)but 60 cm away from the antenna. 11 Fig . which isdecreasing along the axis of plasma column. shows the surface current decreases alongthe axis of plasma antenna. there are only 2 harmonics have higher power thanbackground power.10. measured by spectrum analyzer. 10 Varia t ion in p o we r level o f di ff eren t h a r mo n i c s . As fig. This surface current which is generated by 5 MHz driven frequencythat generates electromagnetic field with several harmonics which are shown in Fig.working pressure The magnitude of surface current depends on the plasma electron density. 11 Nu mb e r . higher order harmonics vanish away from the plasma antenna due todecay of power into medium (Fig.

The elevation pattern (Fig.o f h a r mo n i c s as a f unc t ion o f radial dis t ance 12 Fig. 50cm) from source end of the antenna.12 Elevation field pattern of plasma antenna at different Vertical planes having 15 degree increment inazimuthal plane .7) is also measured by moving the probe in horizontal plane by 15 degree from 00£q £ 3600 at different heights (5cm.12) of our plasma antenna is measured by moving the probe inan arc over the plasma Antenna Under Test (AUT) with 15-degree increment from 00 £q £ 900at different vertical planes and having 15 degree increment in horizontal plane. 10cm. 15cm. It is usually taken to be greater then.The Rayleigh criterion is usually taken as minimum distance from the AUT to the far fieldwhere pattern measurements should be made. Patterns are similar for the three antennae. 2L 2 / l . The azimuthalpattern (Fig. Boththese patterns are also measured in similar way for SS304 and copper metallic antenna of similardimensions as the plasma antennae.

14 Helical plasma antenna.16 Critical value .03 mbar to 0. backgroundpressure (10-3 mbar to 10-6 mbar) and length of glass tube (5 cm to 30 cm).15).3mbar). input power (70 watt to 400 watt).13. 5. helical plasma withrotation and plasma with spiral shape. The system dimension is much lessthen wavelength (a<< l . plasma column istransformed to finite number of cylindrical or spherical striations (balls). These states are visibly different and are shown inphotographs (Fig.13 Planer array plasma antenna Fig .16)these cylindrical striations are separated from each other.15 Spiral plasma antenna 5. Fig.4 STRIATIONS IN PLASMA COLUMN:By changing external operating parameters such as working pressure (. 14.where L isthe largest AUT dimension. 14 Fig. These different structures in plasma column are transformed from astable uniform inhomogeneous steady state (plasma column) to unstable nonuniforminhomogeneous state. These segments or elements of plasmaantenna are called antenna elements. For our largest effective antenna length (35 cm). The axial current distribution on the antenna elements isshown in Fig. These different formations in the plasma are visible at different pressures orpower. keeping all other remaining parameters constant. The separation between striations willbe vanished at lower and higher value then the critical value.5 STATIONARY STRIATIONS AS ARRAY PLASMA ANTENNA:At critical value which is the combination of input power and working pressure (Fig. driven frequency (3. Now each cylindrical striationforms a short length plasma column having associated surface current so each cylindrical plasmaelement of plasma column acts as a short antenna. this is about 4 mm for 5MHz harmonic so both patters are measured in far field region.7 MHz to 32 MHz). 13 Fig. L<< l ) where “a” is diameter (3 cm) and L is the length of plasma antenna(35 cm). which again diffuses to stable nonuniform inhomogenous observed steadystate. This plasma antenna will act as a monopole wire antenna.17.

17 Current distribution on the surface of planar array plasma . Fig.of input power at various working pressures to form plasma antenna elements .

The length of firstantenna element varies with driven frequency. power. whichcan be called Helical plasma antenna and spiral plasma antenna. Thelength of antenna elements decreases along the antenna axis (Fig.14 and 15. 15 Fig. Fig.19 shows that the number of elements are increasingfrom one to six while the length of glass tube is varied from 5 cm to 30 cm. driven frequency and length of glasstube. These structures of plasma act as antenna. 19 Variation in number of plasma antenna element with driven frequency & along the length of the glasstube Fig.antenna The parameters of antenna elements can be controlled such that number and length of elements vary by changing the working pressure.18 shows that the number of antenna elements increase with driven frequency and inputpower. 18.21 Variation in length of antenna elements as a function of n u mb e r .20). Fig. This structure of plasmaantenna acts as a planner array antenna. 100 watts of powerto 32 MHz and 400 watts of power. are shown in Fig. It is 5 cm at 5 MHz and 2 cm at 32 MHz. Some other structures (Helical and Spiral) are also foundin our experiment. The number of elements vary from six to ten by operating at 5MHz.

The communication range of our monopole plasma antenna is measured to be45 meters. Two experiments.6 EXPERIMENTS FOR VERSATILE PLASMA ANTENNA:Qualitative observations have been confirmed that the plasma antenna can be used fortransmitting and receiving audio signals or TV (video) information. In comparison the communication range with a similar metallic telescopeantenna is measured as 50 meters.7 mV. Thisexperiment is performed by all structures of plasma antenna. givenbelow to show that plasma structures act as receiving/transmitting antenna over the range 10 to250 MHz for a range of RF power levels and hence different effective length and structures forantenna.90 MHz. which is increased up to 60 meters with varying pressure or different structure of plasma antenna.22 showsclearly. But the effective range is measured as 170 cm awayfrom plasma antenna when plasma is formed. (II) The audio noise level is measured on the loudspeaker output terminal. Fig. which formed as working pressure andwithout plasma in glass tube.2 mV to 8.All these structures of plasma act as antenna. 16 (I) Jamming capabilities of EM waves of this antenna has been qualitatively tested with standardFM radio receivers at 91. This FM channel could be received in the absence of plasmacolumn even though rf generator is kept ON. This plasma antenna acts as a receiver when audio frequency (300-3400 Hz) which is converted to carrier frequency (46-49 MHz) frequency multiplier and RFamplifier so the plasma antenna works as Tx/Rx antenna. the reception of FM radio channel is cut off. Plasma antenna is used forcommunication.of antenna e l e me n t s at different working presser 5. Different . the noise level is reducing with pressure and plasma antenna structure is also changingwith pressure so the planner array antenna and helical plasma antenna performs better than themonopole plasma antenna. The noise level ismeasured with different structures of plasma antenna. The noise level is reduced from 15. The communication range increases with different structures.

S-99V)'. Fig. A 3 element Yagi antenna is taken as the transmitter to radiate at 590 MHz. so it can be named as a versatile plasmaantenna. Theobserved pattern is shown in Figure 24 for frequency 590 MHz.21 Variation in noise level with working pressure 17 Chapter 6 6. Two such arrays (of 360 points each) are provided. The radiation patternis measured in the H plane (perpendicular to the antenna). Figure22.mitting system in the co polar position . S-99T.The schematic experimental set up for this purpose is shown in Figure 22.showing angular variation of the normalized received power. Figure 23. RADIATION PATTERN The radiation pattern of the tube working as an antenna is measured by a standardtransmitter-receiver system `Signet Antenna Analyzing Equipment's (S99R. The plasmaantenna is mounted on the revolving machine and connected to the receiver. For each 1 degree. Both curves are polar plots. The outer circle has a constantvalue 0 dB in this scale. Schematic picture showing the antenna with respect to the Trans.the receiver measures the power received by the plasma antenna in dB micro Volt (dB¹V) andstores it in the internal array memory. Picture of Plasma antenna on the Signet receiver. and the inner circle has a value .type of antenna structures is formed in asingle system by changing the external parameters.

The second measurement referred to as `Array 2' is for across polarization between the transmitter and plasma antenna. The rst cursor shows the maximum value of received power having a value 18 73.4 dB at 193 degree. The measurement. 19 Chapter 77.plasma antenna technology has the following additional attributes: . it canbe seen from Figure 24 that from angle 0 degree to 60 degree. while the second cursor shows the minimum value of received powerhaving a value 59. isfor co-polarization.¡ 10 dB. When demonized. asshown on the lower left panel of Figure 24. marked `A'. In our measurement. Figure 24 . the received power values areapproximately equal in both co. as it has to be analyzed relative to the Array 1 results. the gas has infinite resistance and does notinteract with RF radiation. Radiation from the plasma antenna shows monopole patterns . By reducing ringing and noise. First measurement isreferred to as `Array 1'. UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS OF A PLASMA ANTENNA One fundamental distinguishing feature of a plasma antenna is that the gas ionizingprocess can manipulate resistance. This happens due to scattering of ¯eldsfrom the coaxial cable because it comes in between the transmitting and receiving antennas. Based on the results of development to date. and this curve is marked `B'. eliminating the ringing associated withtraditional metal elements. Also.we believe our plasma antenna provides increased accuracy and reduces computer signalprocessing requirements. for a full rotation of 360 degree of the receiver. Thiscoaxial cable has been used for power supply to the upper electrode of the °uorescent tube.0 dB at 24 degree. In these applications. withreference to Figure 22. A second fundamental distinguishing feature is that aftersending a pulse the plasma antenna can be demonized. Ringing and the associated noise of a metal antenna can severely limitcapabilities in high frequency short pulse transmissions. Array 1 curve. is done for one particular polarization of the transmitter (or one particulartransmitter) at a time. We can mark two cursorson the Array 1 curve that show the received power in dB¹V at those particular angle values.and cross-polarizations. When demonized the gas antenna will not backscatter radar waves(providing stealth) and will not absorb high-power microwave radiation (reducing the effect of electronic warfare countermeasures). Nocursors can be marked on this. metal antennas areoften accompanied by sophisticated computer signal processing. These advantages are important in cutting edge applications for impulseradar and high-speed digital communications. as shown on the upper left panel of Figure 10.

power. beam width. After the gas is ionized. While in operation. Reduced radar cross section provides stealth due to the non-metallic elements.polarization and directionality . Plasma resonance.No antenna ringing provides an improved signal to noise ratio and reduces multipathsignal distortion. Changes in the ion density can result in instantaneous changes in bandwidth over widedynamic ranges. the plasma antenna has virtually no noise floor. impedance and electron charge density are all dynamicallyreconfigurable. It has been mathematically illustrated that by selecting the gases and changing iondensity that the electrical aperture (or apparent footprint) of a plasma antenna can bemade to perform on par with a metal counterpart having a larger physical size. gain.on the fly. a plasma antenna with a low ionization level can be decoupled froman adjacent high-frequency transmitter. A circular scan can be performed electronically with no moving parts at a higher speedthan traditional mechanical antenna structures. . Our plasma antenna can transmit and receive from the same aperture provided thefrequencies are widely separated. Ionized gas antenna elements can be constructed and configured into anarray that is dynamically reconfigurable for frequency.

The gas plasma antenna conducts electron current like a metal andhence can be made into an antenna but with distinct advantages. SPONSORED WORK To date. 2. awarded contract N66001-97-M-1153 1 May 1997. The work was carried out in part through two ONR sponsored contracts. 20 Chapter 88.Increased power can be achieved in the plasma antenna than in thecorresponding metal antenna because of lower Ohmic losses. ignition mechanisms. This antenna is designed to operate at 2. NCCOSCRDTE Division.C-0045 was a 6-month SBIRawarded by ONR on November 15. Both laboratory and fieldtestmeasurements were conducted. temperatures and thermionic noise emissions andcompare these results to a reference folded copper wire monopole. The following technologicalconcepts are important to plasma antennas: 1.4 Ghzand would be mounted on the mast of an attack submarine. excitation andrelaxation times. upper frequency limits. a high-powered plasma antenna is still low powered plasma. The second contract N00014-98. Since plasmas do not melt. In addition a prototype plasmawaveguide and plasma reflector has been designed and demonstrated to General Dynamics. Enhanced bandwidth .the plasma antennas can provide heat and fire resistance. In thisrange. San Diego. The majorobjective of the program was to determine the noise levels associated with the use of gas plasmaas a conductor for a transmitting and receiving antenna. Higher power .ASI Technology Corporation is under contract with General Dynamics Electric BoatDivision and in conjunction with the Plasma Physics Laboratory at the University of Tennessee. The higher achievable power anddirectivity of the plasma antenna can enhance target discrimination and track ballistic missiles atthe S and X band. 1997.an inflatable plasma antenna is being developed. Plasmas have a much wider rangeof power capability than metals as evident from low powered plasma in fluorescent bulbs toextremely high-powered plasmas in the Princeton University experimental fusion reactors. plasma antenna technology has been studied and characterized by ASITechnology Corporation revealing several favorable attributes in connection with antennaapplications. The measured radiationpatterns of the plasma antenna compared very well with copper wire antennas. The major objective of this effort was to characterizethe GP antenna for conductivity.A single dynamic antenna structure can use time multiplexing so that many RFsubsystems can share one antenna resource reducing the number and size of antennastructures. ionization breakdowns.The following discussion illustrates why there is military and government support forplasma antenna concepts.

The plasma windowing effect enhances directivity and gain in a single plasma antenna elementso that an array will have less elements than a corresponding metal antenna array. One option is to construct controlled density plasma blanketsaround plasma antennas thereby creating windows (low-density sections of the blanket) for mainlobe transmission or reception and closing windows (high-density regions in the plasma blanket).. This enhanced bandwidth can improvediscrimination. 4. The theoretical calculations on the controlled variation of plasma density in space andtime suggest that greater bandwidth of the plasma antenna can be achieved than thecorresponding metal antenna of the same geometry. 7.communication) while suppressing another bandwidth (e. by changing plasma densities. 21 3. Perfect reflector When the plasma density is high the plasma becomes a loss-less perfectreflector. 6. Hence there exist the possibilities of a wide range of lightweight plasma reflectorantennas. This eliminates or diminishes EMI/ECI thereby producing stealth. Higher efficiency and gain . Lower noise The plasma antenna has a lower collision rate among its charge carriers than ametal antenna and calculations show that this means less noise. Closingplasma windows where back lobes and side lobes exist eliminates them and reduces jammingand clutter. .Radiation efficiency in the plasma antenna is higher due tolower Ohmic losses in the plasma. a single antenna can operate at one bandwidth (e.g. 5.Several plasma antennas can have their electron densities adjusted so that they can operate inclose proximity and one antenna can operate invisible to others.The plasma antenna is transparent to incoming electromagnetic signals in the lowdensity or turned off mode.g. Reconfiguration and mutifunctionality The plasma antenna can be reconfigured on the flyby controlled variation of the plasma density in space and time with far more versatility than anyarrangement of metal antennas.By the use of electrodes or lasers the plasma density can becontrolled. This sidelobe reduction below 40db enhances directivity and discrimination. radar). EMI/ECI . In this physical arrangementmutual side lobe and back lobe clutter is highly reduced and hence jamming and clutter isreduced. Inaddition. Estimates indicate a 20db improvement in antenna efficiency. Standing wave efficiency is higher because phase conjugatematching with the antenna feeds can be achieved by adjusting the plasma density and can bemaintained during reconfiguration. This reduces the number of required elements reducing size andweight of shipboard antennas.

Antennas constructed of metal can be bigand bulky. which is plasma. it can be made to disappear. Once energized. 23 CONCLUSION As part of a “blue skies” research program. they are still near transparent tofields at microwave frequencies.Plasma is an ionized gas and can be formed by subjecting a gas to strong electric ormagnetic fields. which are alsounder consideration.The type of plasma antenna under investigation is constructed using a hollow glasscolumn which is filled with an inert gas. ADVANTAGES The advantage of a plasma antenna is that it can appear and disappear in a few millionthsof a second.The same effect is observed with the use of ionosphere. Gerard Borg. This means that when the antenna is not required. say HF communications. the plasma column can be . and has begun working in collaboration with ANU plasma physicists Professor JeffreyHarris and Dr.leaving behind the gas – filled column that has little effect on the electromagnetic fields in theproximity of the tube. for antennas. This can be ionized by the application of a strong RFfield at the base of the column. It can also pose problems whenthere is a requirement to locate many antennas in a confined area. It offers a paradigm shift in the way we look at antennas and is already providing the opportunity to create many new and original antennadesigns. The same will be true for fiber glass and plastic tubes. whilst microwave satellite communication signals pass through the ionosphere. The yellow lights in streets are a good example of plasmas though a betterexample is the fluorescent tubes commonly used for lighting in homes. Every nightamateur radio operators bounce their signals off the ionosphere to achieve long distancecommunications.22 Chapter 99. The fact that metal structures cannot be easily movedwhen not in use limits some aspects of antenna array design.Weapons System Division has been studying the concept of using plasma columns forantennas.The other advantage of plasma antenna is that even when they are ionized and in use atthe lower end of the radio spectrum. and are normally fixed in place.The research may one day have far reaching applications from robust military antennasthrough to greatly improved external television aerials. DSTO has teamed up with the ANU’s PlasmaResearch Laboratory to investigate the possibility of using plasmas like those generated influorescent ceiling lights. Work by the team has already led to a provisional patent and hasgenerated much scientific interest as it is so novel.

A. M. Moisan. SanFrancisco University Press) A. Plasma antenna technology offers thepossibility of building completely novel antenna arrays..Sci.. M.Trivelpiece . Glade.Trivelpiece and R.W. M. For example. Beaudry and P.19. 1784(1959) A. J. Rev.Gould. 20.. . C.Plasma Phys.Phys. 1519(1970) Z. 24 REFERENCES A.1895(1986).W.Sci. To date. Zakrzewski. Zakrzewski. PlasmaPhys.There are many potential advantages of plasma antennas.made to exhibit manyof the same characteristics of a metal whip antenna of the type mounted on most cars.30. Zhelyazkov. slow-wave propagation in plasma waveguids. V.Appl.1049(1978).1331(1982) D. Tuma.. Leprince. a 160 MHz communications link was demonstrated using plasma antennas for both base and mobile stations.. Moisan and Z.Instrum. M.W. R. Trivelpiece. M. and DSTO and ANU are nowinvestigating the commercialization of the technology. as well as radiation pattern control andlobe steering mechanisms that have not been possible before. the research has producedmany novel antennas using standard fluorescent tubes and these have been characterized andcompare favorably with their metal equivalents.24. Shivarova and A.41. Current research isworking towards a robust plasma antenna for field demonstration to Defense Force personnel. Plasma Phys.77(1977). W.58..Shivarova and I.Instrum. Moisan . Rev. The metalwhips that may be considered for a plasma replacement are anywhere from a few centimeters toseveral meters long.

G. A.2198 (July 2000) H. Borg. Rayner and A. Rayner. H. Thorncraft. M. Herring. Kwan. T.PlasmaSci. S. G. J. IEEE Trans. Martin. Cheetham. D.32(1). P. 396(July-2002).M. Fluids 12. Kircher. 836 (1969). P. J. Plasmas. P. . Apll. Whichello. Miljak and N. Whichello. Harris.G. Result 00 of 00 00 results for result for  p. Sydney. Phys. 74. N. D.. Phys. J. Harris. 7.Plasma Physics. Conf. J. D.. Cheetham. B. H. Robertson and J.Lett. Milliken. Proc. Borg. P.Miljak. Ng. Search Search History: Searching. G.3272(1999). D. Martin. J.11th Int. R. and J.. and D. 269 (2004).Phys. G. Australia.. J.