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11, NOVEMBER 2012


A Through-Dielectric Ultrawideband (UWB) Switched-Antenna-Array Radar Imaging System
Gregory L. Charvat, Leo C. Kempel, Edward J. Rothwell, Christopher M. Coleman, and Eric L. Mokole

Abstract—A through-dielectric switched-antenna-array radar imaging system is shown that produces near real-time imagery of targets on the opposite side of a lossy dielectric slab. This system operates at S-band, provides a frame rate of 0.5 Hz, and operates at a stand-off range of 6 m or greater. The antenna array synthesizes 44 effective phase centers in a linear element-to-element spacing by time division multiarray providing plexing the radar’s transmit and receive ports between 8 receive elements and 13 transmit elements, producing 2D (range vs. cross-range) imagery of what is behind a slab. Laboratory measurements agree with simulations, the air-slab interface is range gated out of the image, and target scenes consisting of cylinders and soda cans are imaged through the slab. A 2D model of a slab, a cylinder, and phase centers shows that blurring due to the slab and bistatic phase centers on the array is negligible when the radar sensor is located at stand-off ranges of 6 m or greater. Index Terms—Synthetic aperture radar, real time systems, dielectric slab, radar imaging, ultrawideband radar.

I. INTRODUCTION In this communication, the performance (simulated and measured) of an ultrawideband (UWB) radar for imaging through walls is discussed. This system features a hardware architecture that yields a significantly better acquisition time (2 s) than the 20 minutes of an earlier linear rail SAR [1], while retaining the same quality of imaging. This improvement is effected by integrating the spatial frequency rangegated frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) architecture (as described in [1]) with a switched antenna array. The original rail SAR, capable of imaging targets through a lossy dielectric slab, used an FMCW architecture that chirped from 1.926–4.096 GHz in 2.5–10 ms and provided a range gate to reject the air-slab and slab-air scattering by significantly band-limiting the IF stages. The modeling agreed with measurements for 15.2 cm diameter cylinders located behind the slab. In fact, the rail SAR is capable of imaging targets as small as soda cans through a 10 cm thick lossy dielectric slab (made of concrete) at a stand-off range of 9 m. Unfortunately, the radar required 20 minutes to acquire a complete data set across the length of the rail, which does not support practical applications. The modified radar architecture of this communication provides nearly the same length aperture and resolution but reduces the acquisition time from 20 minutes to less than 2 seconds. This array consists
Manuscript received July 11, 2011; revised February 15, 2012, May 29, 2012; accepted June 18, 2012. Date of publication July 10, 2012; date of current version October 26, 2012. This work was supported by the Naval Research Laboratory with funding from the Office of Naval Research, ONR Code 30, the Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare & Combating Terrorism Department. G. L. Charvat, L. C. Kempel, and E. J. Rothwell are with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 USA (e-mail:;; C. Coleman is with Integrity Applications Incorporated, Chantilly, VA 20151 USA (e-mail: E. L. Mokole is with the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375 USA (e-mail: Color versions of one or more of the figures in this communication are available online at Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TAP.2012.2207663

of 8 receive elements and 13 transmit elements that are time-division-multiplexed (TDM) to the radar receive and transmit ports. The radar acquires bi-static range profiles between a subset of all possible bi-static transmitter and receiver element combinations, providing a 44 virtual element linear array that is 2.24 m in length with approximately spacing, producing 2D (range vs. cross-range) imagery of what is behind a slab. Given the large array size, this system would be used in applications where it could be mounted on a vehicle. Simulations and measurements show that this array is effectively the same as a rail SAR of equal length when imaging targets in free space [2]. The air-slab-air model [1] is applied to the switched-antenna-array [2] to show that the bi-static combinations have a negligible effect on imagery through a lossy slab at stand-off ranges. Similar arrays have been used for short-range free-space radar imaging [3]–[5] and for through-slab applications [6]–[15]. The array in this communication is different from previous work because it element spacing and is interfaced to the range-gated facilitates FMCW radar system [1], thereby enabling through-slab imaging at a stand-off range of 6 m or greater. A more recent paper [16] uses a switched array but is different than the work discussed here because its array facilitates 3D imaging but is significantly smaller providing lower resolution and does not use the range-gated FMCW architecture. A description of the radar imaging system is presented in Section II and simulated and measured results of a cylinder through the lossy slab are compared in Section III. II. RADAR SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION Range-to-target information from a de-correlated FMCW radar signal is in the form of low-frequency beat tones representing ranges-to-targets in the spatial frequency domain. The more distant the target the higher the spatial frequency [18]. It is possible to implement a range gate with a FMCW radar system by placing a band-pass filter (BPF) at the output of the video amplifier filtering out only the spatial frequency bandwidth that corresponds to the range swath of interest, however this implementation is challenging because it is difficult to design practical high-circuit-Q BPFs at baseband. Higher performance BPFs are available as IF communication filters which operate at high frequencies and are found in two-way radios and communication receivers. Examples include crystal, ceramic, surface acoustic wave, and mechanical filters. The radar architecture discussed here [1] uses high-Q IF filters as an analog range gate to reject spatial frequencies due to scattering from the air-slab boundary and pass those corresponding to the desired range swath behind the slab. This narrow IF bandwidth provides a short-duration spatial frequency range gate for long duration linear frequency modulated (LFM) chirp waveforms. For example, this radar is capable of chirping from 1.926 GHz to of 4.069 GHz in 2.5 ms, 5 ms, and 10 ms providing chirp rates 857 GHz/s, 428 GHz/s, and 214 GHz/s, respectively. The IF filter used in this radar system has a center frequency of (10.7 MHz ) and a bandwidth of (7.5 kHz BW) providing range gates of 8.75 ns, 17.5 ns, and 35 ns respectively. Range gating is represented by the time-domain output of the video amplifier in Fig. 4 (neglecting amplitude terms) by [1]

where gate.

(1) is time in seconds, and is the round-trip time from the radar to the center of the range

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stack-ups of various materials further increase attenuation [17]. 4. Simulated time domain response after spatial frequency crystal filter response is applied. Time domain simulated scattered field and spatial frequency filter response. Block diagram. For example. 1. 3). 1). in this case.5496 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION. Fig. In addition to this. multi-path between the back-side of the wall and cylinder is also increased relative to the wall amplitude. Fig. 60. 11. Using the model previously developed [1]. radiated at the target scene while using a low peak-power (and therefore lower cost) transmitter. This range-gating technique facilitates the use of long duration LFM waveforms. the long duration LFM waveform eases data acquisition requirements so that inexpensive digitizers can be used. 2. The spatial frequency range gate filter used in these experiments was measured (Fig. Measured S21 magnitude response of the crystal filter used for the spatial frequency range gate.6 cm radius perfect electric conductor cylinder at a range of 6 m and 9. not including path loss. reducing the wall reflection by approximately 55 dB. a range profile of a 10 cm thick solid concrete wall with a 7. VOL. NO. This spatial frequency range-gate is used to greatly attenuate the spatial frequency response that corresponds to the slab. The objective of this design was to provide high performance at a low cost using readily available components because . a 200 KSPS 16 bit digitizer was used for all experiments. In this case. 2). Similar results are realized when the wall thickness is increased to 20 cm. NOVEMBER 2012 Fig. The IF filter plays the major role in reducing the wall reflection. a 10 cm thick solid concrete slab was measured to provide 45 dB and a 20 cm thick solid concrete slab was measured to provide 90 dB two-way path loss at 3 GHz. This approach is advantageous when imaging through lossy slabs because measured losses through solid concrete. In addition to this. thereby reducing the dynamic range requirement of the digitizer. typically exceed the maximum dynamic range available from most digitizers of reasonable cost. The product of the filter and time domain response show that the relative magnitude of the cylinder is greatly increased compared to the wall thus requiring less dynamic range for a through-wall measurement (Fig. 3.1 m respectively was simulated and the frequency response of the IF filter in time domain was shifted thereby placing the wall in the stop-band (Fig. thereby providing increasing average transmit power to be Fig.

only 8 receive elements and 13 transmit elements are required. For of the element were dB this would offer only example. where 44 pairs (or baselines) are used to synthesize a each of the pairs is represented by straight lines drawn between el- Fig. Only aperture. Calibration coefficients are applied to each frame of data before the SAR image is processed [2]. In all scenarios. Complete details of implementation are presented [22]. The beamforming algorithm is a type of SAR imaging algorithm known as the range migration algorithm (RMA) [19]. (5. The transmit and receive elements are physically separated into two sub-arrays made up of ANT1-13 and ANT14-21. each receive element has an LNA mounted directly on it (LNA1-8). therefore in order to preserve the noise figure. It is for this reason that the best possible isolation is achieved by using separate transmit and receive elements. The receive fan-out switch matrix (SW5-7) also has insertion loss.35 m down range and centered to the middle of the array in free-space. Although the near real-time concept is demonstrated here. resulting in a 1 mW peak power at the transmit antenna elements. These assumptions rithm assumes a uniformly sampled are an approximation to the actual effective mono-static element position which. At any given time the transmitter and receiver ports are routed to only one antenna pair. 11. The middle row of small circles in Fig. The measured S11 of elements used in this radar varies over the wide bandwidth. This pole is treated as if it were a point target. digitizes the de-chirped video signal. 5. according to analysis [2]. NOVEMBER 2012 5497 Fig. at the expense of time required to time division multiplex (TDM) the radar transmit and receive ports to the appropriate antenna elements.3 dB. thereby providing a maximum possible theoretical PRF of 400 Hz and image rate of 9 Hz. ements (Fig. if the 20 dB of isolation. NO. Fortunately the practical application does not require instantaneous beamforming. the target scene of interest is within the main beam of each element. Each bi-static pair of transmit and receive elements functions like a mono-static element approximately located half-way along the line drawn between [20]. but in general each element provides a dB S11 between 2–4 GHz. For the array described in this communication. and computes then displays the SAR image. This large number of elements significantly increases the cost and complexity of the system.5 m or greater. real-time video frame-rate imaging is possible by using a more efficient data acquisition pipeline. This FMCW radar uses separate transmit and receive antenna elements to minimize transmitter-to-receiver coupling. Each element is a linear tapered slot antenna etched on FR-4 substrate. Each antenna pair is calibrated to a 1. A Labview graphical user interface (GUI) controls the switch matrices. and effective mono-static phase centers (small circles). 5). Array layout (units in inches) showing antenna element locations (large circles). providing a pulse rate frequency (PRF) of approximately 22 Hz and an image rate of approximately 0. The coupling between elements was measured dB from ANT19 to at the radar center frequency of 3 GHz to be ANT9 and from ANT19 to ANT11. applying low-cost design principles up-front to a proof of concept prototype will more easily facilitate its widespread adaptation if it is shown to be useful. This pair represents a bi-static radar baseline.9 cm diameter copper pole exactly 3. VOL.5 Hz. imaging algorithm. 6. RESULTS Imaging through dielectric slabs is achieved for a variety of moving and stationary targets. background subtraction was used to reduce in-scene clutter (such as support beams and other infrastructure) because all measurements were conducted within the au- . 5. 7. The resulting cascaded noise figure is estimated to be approximately 3. This algoaperture. [21]. holds true for targets at practical stand-off ranges of 4. where the receive elements are on the top row and the transmit elements are on the bottom row. Radar system. pulses the transmitter. By using switched antenna array techniques. but the transmit fan-out switch matrix (SW1-4) has approximately 10 dB of insertion loss.24 m long array providing spacing for this radar at 3 GHz would require a total of 88 antenna elements consisting of 44 separate pairs of transmit and receive elements. fewer transmit and receive elements are required to provide spacing across the array. 60.08 cm) element A conventional 2. 6 and the front of the array is shown in Fig. and GUI implementation. The physical location of each element is represented by a large circle in Fig. 5 indicates where the effective mono-static elements are located. The transmit and receive ports of the FMCW radar are fed to two fan-out switch matrices (Fig. Due to the relatively small size of this SAR.52 m tall 1. The radar transmitter provides a peak output power of 10 mW. 4) that rout transmit signals to transmit elements (ANT1-13) and received signals from receive elements (ANT14-21). dipping as low as dB better than S11 between 3–4 GHz. bi-static baselines. III.IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION. The switched-antenna-array radar system is shown in Fig. Using separate transmit and receive elements generally provides better isolation than using a circulator with a single element because the circulator’s performance depends on the reflected power of the element it is fed to.

The differences are likely due to transmit leakage into adjacent elements through one of several paths. 8(a). through a lossy slab (solid concrete with thickness cm) The expected free space range resolution for an un-weighted pulse compressed waveform depends on the chirp bandwidth calculated using [19] (2) where is the speed of light in free space. the relatively low measured isolation of the antenna switches at 4 GHz (35 dB). 9) of the simulated and measured images (Fig. NO. and behind a slab located at 6. thor’s garage. 60. however the first sidelobes are approximately 3 dB above the simulated result. The measured cross range is 12. Any practical implementation of this system would use a high frame rate on the order of 10 Hz or greater. VOL. 8).6 cm. 8. the measured image of this target scene is shown in Fig. The results in the following experiments will show that the location of the targets behind the slab were clearly discernible. 11. This result shows that when imaging through a lossy slab of concrete at a stand-off range the switched-antenna-array radar is performing close to the smallest theoretical range resolution possible and that the slab has negligible effect on range resolution when the radar is located at a stand-off range. Measured and simulated cross-range main lobes are in close agreement. To quantify the performance of this radar system. for example. Because of this the cross-range resolution depends on the length of the array and the location of the point target being measured relative to the front of the array in both down-range and cross-range. For comparison. Radar images are formed using a SAR imaging algorithm.2 cm located down range at 907 cm. details shown [1].5498 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION.1 m down range made of solid concrete with a thickness of 10 cm. Resolution It was observed that theoretical best-possible resolution in free space is nearly identical to the measured range resolution when imaging through a lossy slab with the system placed at a stand-off range of ( m). All aforementioned affects would shift the assumed bi-static phase centers thereby increasing the cross-range sidelobes.4 cm. Simulated (a) and measured (b) cylinder (radius cm). A. 8(b). B. The down-range resolution derived from the measurements is 9. Antenna array. The expected cross-range resolution for the cylinder located at 907 cm down-range and 25 cm cross-range is 20. It was shown in Fig. showing the validity of the model except for the close-in cross-range sidelobes which are slightly elevated. 7. frame-to-frame coherent background subtraction would reveal the location of all moving targets while rejecting stationary clutter. NOVEMBER 2012 Fig. There are many scenarios in which this would be valuable. The measured and simulated images compare well in down-range. and aspect angle from 0 to across the aperture. With a higher frame rate. The simulated image of this target scene is shown in Fig. is the angle from the is the change in target center of the aperture to the point target. which . Fig. feed line coupling because all feed lines are bundled tightly into two harnesses (transmit and receive). and mutual coupling of antenna elements. 3 that background subtraction is not necessary to image through a concrete slab but in practice it helps to reduce clutter. the same target scene is both simulated and measured in the laboratory. The expected down-range resolution based on chirp bandwidth is 7 cm. The point spread functions of both simulated and measured imagery are similar. This target scene consists of a cylinder with a radius of 15. Cross-range resolution is calculated for the un-weighted case by [19] (3) where is the range to the point target. Sidelobes Down-range and cross-range cuts are plotted (Fig. looking for human targets inside of a building. cross range at 25 cm. where the noise floor is clearly shown in the image. The measured cylinder is about 20 dB above the noise floor.4 cm. A 2D simulation was performed using a combination of wave matrix theory [23] and the scattering solution to a cylinder [24]. except that the first sidelobe closest to the radar appears to be elevated in the measurement.

11. 10). Fig. should include additional frequency trade-space analysis. which is far too slow for practical applications. demonstrating this radar’s sensitivity.2 cm and 30. NOVEMBER 2012 5499 Fig. “A through-dielectric radar imaging system. Small-target-imagery example: three 12 oz soda cans are imaged through a 10 cm thick lossy dielectric slab. demonstrating the effectiveness of both the range-gated FMCW radar architecture and coherent background subtraction for eliminating the unwanted returns. Three 12 oz aluminum soda cans were imaged through the slab (Fig. Aug. a 2D through-slab model was applied to the problem geometry showing that modeled and measured through-slab results are in close agreement.5 cm diameter cylinders. and demonstrate real-time video frame-rate imaging of 10 Hz or greater. 11. 11). 2594–2603.” IEEE Trans. REFERENCES [1] G. Fig. and E. instead it was developed to rapidly prove these concepts. With this range-gated FMCW architecture. appears to be better than free-space but this is likely due to element coupling (as mentioned above) or array calibration causing subtle cancellation close to the main lobe. the concept of imaging through lossy slabs using this switched array system was demonstrated. Rothwell. no. Antennas Propag. a phased array radar system was implemented using switched antenna techniques. reduced noise figure. 8.5 Hz frame rate. but this system could be improved. 9. 2010. 58. pp.IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION. Although the RCSs of these targets are significantly smaller than both the 15. Regardless of this. L. Large-target imagery example: A 30. L. Kempel. NO. L. Large and Small Target Imagery A larger RCS cylinder with a diameter of 30. Future work should lead to development of a system with increased transmit power. CONCLUSION A rail SAR with a range-gated FMCW radar architecture was previously shown to be effective at imaging through a lossy slab of solid concrete at stand-off ranges exceeding 6 m. Coleman. In addition. the location of the slab is effectively range gated and coherently subtracted out of all imagery. .5 cm diameter cylinder is imaged through a 10 cm thick lossy dielectric. E. providing near-equivalent performance to the rail SAR while reducing data acquisition time to 2 s providing a 0. VOL. 10. the measured cross-range sidelobes show that the switched-antenna-array radar is performing close to the smallest theoretical cross-range resolution possible when imaging through a lossy slab at a stand-off range.5 Hz frame rate is the data acquisition pipeline which was not optimized for high performance. 60. C. In short. Charvat. C. and low RCS targets such as soda cans can be imaged through a lossy slab made of concrete at stand-off ranges. Measured and simulated down-range (a) and cross-range (b) sidelobes. the location of each is clearly shown. C. Mokole. The limiting factor causing the 0. vol.. Unfortunately the data acquisition time was approximately 20 minutes. IV. But more importantly the lossy slab located 610 cm down-range in front of the cylinder is not shown. Furthermore.5 cm was imaged through the slab (Fig. J. The full extent of the radar image is clearly showing the target position.

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