Introduction to Antenna Types and Their

By Justin Voogt
Engineering Electromagnetics
Abstract This paper introduces antenna theory and discusses
various antenna types and applications. The basic equations
and principles of antenna theory are presented. Five different
types of antennas are introduced: dipoles and monopoles,
loop antennas, microstrip antennas, helical antennas, and
horn antennas. The characteristics of each type of antenna
are given. This paper has a selection of antenna applications
from the lo!frequency E"F system to high frequency
ireless applications. This paper is not a comprehensive
study of antennas, but serves as an introduction to antenna
types and their applications.
Keywords #ntennas, #ntenna #pplications, #ntenna Theory
The broadest definition of an antenna is that it is a
transducer%it changes energy from one form into
another. # receiving antenna changes electromagnetic
energy into electric or magnetic energy. # transmitting
antenna changes the energy from electric or magnetic
into electromagnetic energy. &urrent floing in the
antenna induces the electric and magnetic fields.
#ntennas have been used for over a century in a variety
of applications. They can transmit over a massive
range of frequencies, from a fraction of a 'ilohert( to
over one hundred gigahert(. This paper ill give a
brief introduction to antenna principles, and then
discuss various antenna types and their applications.
A. Antenna Parameters
There are five basic parameters that one must
understand to determine ho an antenna ill operate
and perform. The first is the characteristic of radiation
resistance. The radiation resistance *+rad, of an antenna
relates the poer supplied *-rad, to the antenna and the
current *., floing into the antenna. The equation for
radiation resistance is given in *$,. #s can be seen, the
greater the radiation resistance, the more energy is
radiated or received by the antenna. /hen the
radiation resistance of the antenna matches the
resistance of the transmitter or receiver, the system is
optimi(ed. #ntennas also have ohmic or loss resistance
hich decreases efficiency. .t can be shon that an
efficient antenna must be comparable to a avelength
in si(e.
= *$,
# second parameter of antennas is the antenna
pattern. This gives a distribution of radiated poer as a
function of direction in space. 0enerally, planar
sections of the radiation pattern ill be shon instead
of the complete three!dimensional surface. The most
important vies are those of the principal E!plane and
1!plane patterns. The E!plane pattern contains the
plane in hich the electric field lies. 2imilarly, the 1!
plane pattern is a sectional vie in hich the magnetic
field lies. #n e3ample of each type is shon in Figure
$, hich gives the antenna pattern for a half!ave
dipole orientated in the (!direction.

*a, *b,
Fig. $ *a, 4ipole -rincipal E!plane -attern *b, 4ipole -rincipal 1!plane
5ost antennas do not radiate uniformly, as seen in
Figure $a. This implies that there is some directivity,
hich is the third parameter. &losely related to this is
the gain of the antenna. The directivity is a measure of
the ability of an antenna to concentrate the radiated
! $ !
poer in a given direction. The gain is similarly
defined. 6sually given in decibels, it is the ratio of
poer radiated to input poer. Thus, using an antenna
ith a higher gain ould require less input poer.
0ain is a more significant parameter in practice than
the directivity.
Bandwidth is another important antenna parameter.
This refers to the inclusive frequencies available
outside the center frequency. For e3ample, a $7 51(
transmitter ith a $78 bandidth could send
information on frequencies from 9 51( to $$ 51(.
This is important to Frequency 5odulated *F5,
signals, as they require modulation about the carrier
frequency in order to send data.
The final antenna parameter is the signal-to-noise
ratio. This is the relationship beteen the desired
information signal and the noise. .f this ratio does not
e3ceed unity, information ill not be transferred.
:oise can be caused by obstructions, large distances
beteen antennas, and environmental +F noise, such as
poer supplies and digital sitching devices.
B. Electromagnetic Energy Calculations
#n antenna;s electric and magnetic fields can be
calculated at any point, but the equations are not
simple. # short current filament generates the fields
shon in *),, *<,, and *=,, given in spherical
coordinates. Because of the comple3ity of these
equations, most problems involving antennas are
solved by e3perimental rather than theoretical methods.

+ =

r >) ! 7
@e sin
= r r

d I
λ π



) <
r >) ! 7
r >)
@e cos
d I
λ π

+ + =

< )
r >) ! 7
r >)
@e sin
λ π
λ π
r r

d I
s *=,
4espite the comple3ity of these equations, some
observations can be made. The e3ponential factor in
each equation is the same. This indicates ave
propagation outard from the origin in the positive r
direction. The avelength is equal to λ, and d is the
length of the current filament. #lso as e3pected, the
strength of the fields is related directly to the pea'
current, I". The factor η is equal to $)7πΩ in free
#t radial distances $7 or more avelengths aay
from the oscillating current element, these equations
can be simplified. #ll terms e3cept the $Br term may be
neglected, and the radiation fields are given in *C,, *D,,
and *E,. #ssuming a vertical orientation of the current
element, plotting E
θs against θ for a constant r ill
result in a graph similar to Figure $a, called the vertical
pattern. -lotting 1
φs shos the variation of field
intensity ith φ, often referred to as the hori(ontal
pattern, such as in Figure $b.
λ π
r >) ! 7
@e sin
? )

d I
λ π
r >) ! 7
@e sin
?r )

d I
7 =
A. #iploes and $onopoles
The orld;s most popular antenna is the half!ave
dipole. 2hon in Figure ), the total length of the
antenna is equal to half of the avelength. The
relationship beteen avelength and frequency is
% F c B λ , here
$7 <× = c mBs in free space.
4ipoles may be shorter or longer than half of the
avelength, but this fraction provides the best antenna
efficiency. The radiation resistance can be calculated
as E<.$Ω.
Fig. ) 4ipole #ntenna, $B) /ave
The dipole antenna is fed by a to!ire line, here
the to currents in the conductors are equal in
amplitude but opposite in direction. 2ince the antenna
ends are essentially an open circuit, the current
! ) !
distribution along the length of the half!ave dipole is
sinusoidal, shon in Figure <. This produces the
antenna pattern shon in Figure $. This pattern shos
that hen the antenna is vertical, it radiates the most in
the hori(ontal direction and very little out the ends of
the antenna. # typical gain for a dipole antenna is )dB,
and the bandidth is generally around $78.
Fig. < &urrent and Voltage 4istributions for a 1alf!/ave 4ipole #ntenna
# monopole antenna is one!half a dipole plus a
perfectly conducting plane. .t behaves in a similar ay
to the dipole, but most of its parameters are halved.
Figure = shos a quarter!ave monopole, also 'non
as the vertical hip antenna.
Fig. = 5onopole #ntenna, $B= /ave
The radiation resistance is <D.CΩ, half that of a
dipole. The total poer radiated is also half that of a
dipole, and the radiation pattern is shon in Figure C.
# typical gain for a monopole antenna is ) to DdB, and
the bandidth is also around $78.

*a, *b,
Fig. C *a, 5onopole -rincipal E!plane -attern *b, 5onopole -rincipal 1!
plane -attern
B. &oop Antennas
The loop antenna is a conductor bent into the shape
of a closed curve, such as a circle or square, ith a gap
in the conductor to form the terminals. Figure D shos
a circular and a square loop. These antennas may also
be found as multiturn loops or coils, designed ith a
series connection of overlaying turns. There are to
si(es of loop antennas: electrically small and
electrically large. .f the total conductor length is small
compared ith a avelength, it is considered small. #n
electrically large loop typically has a circumference
approaching one avelength.

*a, *b,
Fig. D *a, &ircular "oop #ntenna *b, 2quare "oop #ntenna
The current distribution on a small loop antenna is
assumed to be uniform. This allos it to be simply
analy(ed as a radiating inductor. 6sed as transmitters,
loop antennas have a pattern that follos Figure E.
"oop antennas can have a gain from H)dB to <dB and a
bandidth of around $78.

*a, *b,
Fig. E *a, "oop #ntenna -rincipal E!plane -attern *b, "oop #ntenna
-rincipal 1!plane -attern
"oop antennas have found to be very useful as
receivers. For lo frequencies%here dipoles ould
become very large%loop antennas can be used. /hile
the efficiency of a small loop antenna is not good, a
high signal!to!noise ratio ma'es up for it. # common
method to increase loop antennas; performance is to fill
the core ith a ferrite. This has the effect of increasing
! < !
the magnetic flu3 through the loop and increasing
radiation resistance.
C. $icrostrip Antennas
The microstrip or patch antenna is often
manufactured directly on a printed circuit board, here
the patch is a rectangular element that is photoetched
from one side of the board *Figure G,. 5ost microstrip
elements are fed by a coa3ial conductor hich is
soldered to the bac' of the ground plane. Typically the
upper plate conductor is smaller than the ground plane
to allo fringing of the electric field. The dielectric
substrate beteen the microstrip and the ground plane
is simply the printed!circuit substrate.
Fig. G +ectangular 5icrostrip!#ntenna Element
4espite its lo profile, the microstrip antenna has
an efficient radiation resistance. The source of this
radiation is the electric field that is e3cited beteen the
edges of the microstrip element and the ground plane.
The equation for the radiation resistance is a function
of the desired avelength *λ, and the idth */, of the
λ $)7
= *G,
5icrostrip antennas are generally built for devices
that require small antennas, hich lead to high
frequencies, typically in the 0igahert(. 5ost
microstrip elements are very efficient, anyhere from
G7 to 99 percent. Factors that affect efficiency are
dielectric loss, conductor loss, reflected poer, and the
poer dissipated in any loads involved in the elements.
6sing air as a substrate leads to very high efficiencies,
but is not practical for photoetched antennas.
#. !elical Antennas
The basic helical antenna consists of a single
conductor ound into a helical shape, shon in Figure
9. 1elical antennas are circularly polari(ed, that is, the
radiated electromagnetic ave contains both vertical
and hori(ontal components. This is unli'e the dipole,
hich only radiates normal to its a3is. "i'e the
monopole, a ground plane must be present.
Fig. 9 1elical #ntenna
The antenna shon in Figure 9 has a gain of about
$)dB. .t operates in the $77 to C77 51( range and is
fed ith a coa3 here the center conductor is fed
through the center of the ground plane. The spacing of
the turns is $B=!ave and the diameter of the turns is
$B<!ave. This is >ust one e3ample of a helical
antennaI they can be scaled to other frequencies of
operation as ell. Jther modifications can be madeI
nonuniform!diameter helical structures can iden the
bandidth and improve radiation performance.
E. !orn Antennas
1orn antennas are made for the purpose of
controlling one or more of the fundamental antenna
properties: gain, antenna pattern, and radiation
resistance. # horn antenna or's in con>unction ith a
aveguide%a tube that channels energy from one
location to another. 1orn antennas can have several
! = !
shapes, depending on their function. 2everal are shon
in Figure $7.
Fig. $7 +ectangular H/aveguide 1orns *a, -yramidal *b, 2ectoral 1!plane
*c, 2ectoral E!plane *d, 4iagonal
The pyramidal horn in Figure $7a is used to
ma3imi(e the gain, since the antenna is flared in both
the 1!plane and E!plane. This obviously gives the
antenna a fi3ed directivity, and it ill radiate
principally in the direction of the horn;s a3is. Figures
$7b and $7c are special cases of the pyramidal horn,
here either the 1!plane or E!plane is flared thus and
Jnly a handful of antennas have been introduced in
the previous section. There are numerous variations on
these basic antennas, as ell as many different shapes.
#ntennas also have countless applications%many more
than can be covered in this paper. This section ill
discuss some of the more familiar antenna applications.
A. (nited )tates *avy+s E&, )ystem
The 6nited 2tates :avy operates to E"F
*E3tremely "o Frequency, antennas in the northern
6nited 2tates *Figure $$,. /ith more than G7 miles of
ire, the to antennas are used to communicate ith
submerged submarines. E"F systems or' on the
principle that the attenuation of electromagnetic aves
in seaater increases ith frequency. The :avy;s E"F
system operates at only ED 1(, alloing signals to
penetrate to depths of hundreds of feet. The E"F
system is virtually >am proof from both natural and
man!made interference.
Fig. $$ "ocation of E"F Transmitter 2ites
/hen frequencies are this lo, the earth and
ionosphere behave li'e conducting mediums%li'e to
spherical shells. The locations of the transmitters ere
chosen based on geological factors. .n each site, the
bedroc' present has a lo conductivity.
The eight!att E"F signal radiates from the dual!
site system and travels around the orld. #s these
electromagnetic aves pass over the oceans surface,
some of their energy passes into the ocean. This signal
reaches submarines almost orldide at depths of
hundreds of feet and traveling at operational speeds. #ll
:avy submarines are equipped ith E"F receivers that
can decode E"F transmissions. E"F broadcast signals
provide a one!ay message system to submarines that
is slo, but reliable. The submarines can receive E"F
messages but they cannot transmit E"F signals because
of the large poer requirements, the large transmitter
si(e, and the large antenna required to transmit E"F.
2ubmarines can communicate on or near the ocean;s
surface ith higher data rate systems such as satellite
communications systems.
B. -!, and (!, Antennas
The very!high!frequency *V1F, and ultra!high!
frequency *61F, bands are used for private and public!
access services carrying speech and data. There are a
ide variety of applications and many different types
of antennas. For a typical base!station antenna, such as
for a television or radio station, the transmitter must be
large to achieve the desired frequency and provide a
large range of coverage. The V1F and 61F bands
cover frequencies from < 51( to <777 51( and
include television and F5 radio broadcasting. .t is
common that antennas ill share a toer, resulting in a
candelabra structure li'e Figure $).
! C !
Fig. $) 2an Francisco 5ount 2utro #ntenna
C. .- and ,$ Receiving Antennas
The most common type of V1F and 61F receiving
antenna is a Kagi array antenna. Figure $< shos a
combination 61FBV1FBF5 receiving antenna. The
array of different si(e conductors is necessary to
receive different frequencies. Kagi arrays are highly
directional, so the antenna should be pointed toards
the transmitting antenna.
Fig. $< 61FBV1FBF5 #ntenna
#. 'ireless Communications Applications
5obile communication, ireless interconnects, and
cellular phone technologies are groing rapidly.
:aturally, mobile and cellular technologies need
antennas. 1aving the right antenna for the right device
improves transmission and reception, reduces poer
consumption, and lasts longer.
The most common antenna type for cellular
telephones is the monopole, often referred to as a hip
antenna. The L!avelength hip is the
simplest type available and is used in the
=77 to C77 51( range. Jther similar types
are the <BG!avelength hip antenna and
the M!avelength hip antenna. These are
larger than the L!avelength antenna but
have improved performance.
#nother common type used in ireless
applications is the helical antenna. The L!
avelength helical antenna is shon in
Figure $=. .t is smaller than the hip and
has similar performance. "ately it is used
in the G77 to $777 51( cellular bands.
Fig. $= L!/avelength 1elical #ntenna
+etractable antennas are
frequently used in cellular phones as
ell. Figure $C shos a L!
avelength retractable to!in!one
antenna. There are actually to
separate antennas, hich are
electrically decoupled. .n the
e3tended position, the antenna
functions as a hip. .n the retracted
position, it or's as a helical antenna.
The performance is slightly better in
the e3tended position.
Fig. $C L!/avelength +etractable To!.n!Jne
#ntenna *a, E3tended *b, +etracted
*a, *b,
#ntennas are devices that change electromagnetic
energy into electric or magnetic energy or vice versa.
The equations describing antenna behavior are
complicated, and engineers use e3perimental
measurements and data in most antenna design or'.
There are many different types of antennas, and this
paper introduced >ust a fe of the basic shapes: dipoles,
monopoles, loops, microstrips, helicals, and horns.
Each type of antenna has certain characteristics that are
important to determining its behavior: radiation
! D !
resistance, antenna pattern, directivity and gain,
bandidth, and the signal!to!noise ratio. #ntennas are
used in numerous applications. # fe ere mentioned
in this paper, such as the :avy;s E"F system, V1F and
61F antennas, TV and F5 receiving antennas, and
some ireless applications.

N$O /illiam 1. 1ayt, Jr. and John #. Buc', Engineering
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N)O "eo 2etian, Practical Communication Antennas with
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N<O +obert E. &ollin, Antennas and Radiowave Propagation,
5c0ra!1ill: $9GC.
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NCO The 6nited 2tates :avy Fact File, QE3tremely "o
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