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Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium Proceedings, Xian, China, March 2226, 2010


The Design and Simulation of an S-band Circularly Polarized

Microstrip Antenna Array
Ying Jiang, Hongchun Yang, and Xiong Wang
School of Physical Electronics
University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
Chengdu 610054, China

Abstract It is important to use microstrip antenna in aircraft for stealth and movement.
Based on the principle of rectangle microstrip antenna, the S-band circularly polarized microstrip
antenna array is designed according to the quota requirement. By using a software for 3D electromagnetic field analysis (Ansoft HFSS), the S-band microstrip antenna array is simulated and the
optimization of the parameters of design is obtained. The material object of antenna is made
and measured in microwave anechoic chamber. The design of the S-band microstrip antenna
array meets the requirement well comparing with HFSSs simulation result and has practical
engineering value.

Since the concept of microstrip antenna was proposed, it has been widely used in satellite communications, navigation and other fields because of its thin profile, light weight, conformal with the
carrier, easy integration with active devices, etc. In particular the circular polarization microstrip
antenna [1] has some significant advantages: incident electromagnetic wave with any polarization
can be received by circular polarized antenna; the circular polarized wave can also be received by
antenna with any kind of polarization; circular polarized antenna is orthogonal and if the incident wave is circular polarized wave, the handed direction of reflected wave will be inversed and
so on. Because of these characteristics, circular polarization antenna has strong anti-interference
ability. It has been widely used in electronic reconnaissance and jamming, communications and
radar polarization diversity as well as in areas such as electronic counterwork.
In this paper, based on the design of microstrip antenna feed networks and related issues, a
circular polarization microstrip antenna array was designed in S-band, simulated by High Frequency
Simulation Software (HFSS), fabricated and measured. Its design specifications are as follows:
Table 1: Design requirements.
Frequency range (S-band)

Antenna Gain (at 2491.75 MHz)


Horizontal 3 dB beam width

2491 5 MHz

15 dB

right circular


Vertical 3 dB beam width

Polarization axial ratio


size of panel


6 dB

1.5 : 1

440 mm 140 mm 5 mm


Typically, microstrip antenna design is the overall objective of the work in the designated frequency
range to perform a particular characteristic. To achieve this overall objective, the primary task is
to choose a suitable geometry of the patch for the microstrip antenna, such as rectangular, circular
patch, trigon and pentagon. If there are no special requirements, rectangular patch is preferred not
only because that the rectangular microstrip antenna is simple to design and easy to manufacture.
Besides, there is a series of more mature theory as a basis for analysis of rectangular patch antenna,
such as the transmission line method, cavity model method [2] and so on. Rectangular microstrip
patch antenna structure as shown in Fig. 1.
Suppose patch length is L, patch width is W , dielectric thickness is h, dielectric length is Ls ,
dielectric width is Ws , relative dielectric constant is r , effective dielectric constant is e , light speed
is c, center frequency is fr , wavelength in medium is g , free-space wavelength is 0 , extension of
volume is L.
Patch width is

c r + 1 2
W =

PIERS Proceedings, Xian, China, March 2226, 2010


Radiation patch

Coaxial Feeding point

Dielectric substrate

Figure 1: Rectangular microstrip patch antenna structure.

fr , r, r are known parameter.

Patch length is
L =

2fr e

r + 1 r 1
12h 2
e =
( + 0.3)(w/h + 0.264)
= 0.412 e
(e 0.258)(w/h + 0.8)


Dielectric plate width

Ws = W + 0.2g

g = 0 / e


Higher gain can be attained by choosing lower dielectric constant material such as polyethylene,
whose relative dielectric constant r = 2.25, thickness h = 3 mm at fr = 2.4917 GHz. Unknown
parameters can be calculated from the Equations (1) (6) and known parameters: radioactive
element length L = 38.3 mm, the width of the radiation element W = 47.2 mm, e = 2.1, L =
1.6 mm. Medium wavelength g = 80.3 mm, the width of medium plate Ws = 60 mm, Ls = 60 mm.
Microstrip antenna is easy to achieve circular polarization with a single microstrip patch. Currently, the following several ways have been used to achieve circular polarization microstrip antenna
radiation: 1. Orthogonal single-patch feed circular polarization microstrip antenna; 2. Single-point
feed circular polarization microstrip antenna; 3. Curvilinear wideband microstrip circular polarization microstrip antenna; 4. microstrip antenna array consisting of circular polarization microstrip
This paper chose single-point feed method [4], whose most significant advantage is additional
phase-shifting network and power splitter are unnecessary to achieve the circular polarization.
Also, mutual coupling [5] interference brought by the feed network can be significantly reduced if
the distance between the antenna unit in array is small enough. Based on cavity mode theory,
the trajectory of feeding point is diagonal of rectangular patch. To facilitate determining the
location of feeding point, the radiation element can be approximated a square patch, whose size
is W L = 38 mm 38 mm, and medium-size is 60 mm 60 mm 3 mm. The size of the air box
is 200 mm 200 mm 80 mm, about /4 at the lowest frequency. This paper setup the coaxialfed model using Ansoft HFSS10.0. Its thickness, width of dielectric, feeding point and ratio of
width to length are h = 3 mm, w = 37.6 mm and t = 0.96 respectively. It can be clearly seen the
antenna performed not so well at 2491.75 MHz from simulation Smith chart (Fig. 2), indicating the
antenna generated mode separation at 2491.75 MHz, and thus circular polarization wave radiation
The antenna standing-wave ratio, directivity and axis ratio are shown in Fig. 3, Fig. 4, and
Fig. 5.
As can be seen from Fig. 3, the standing wave ratio at the resonant frequency is less than 1.5,
which meets the project targets and performs well on impedance match.

Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium Proceedings, Xian, China, March 2226, 2010

Figure 2: Simulation antenna Smith Chart.

Figure 3: VSWR of the antenna.

Figure 4: Antenna radiation pattern.

Figure 5: Antenna axial ratio.


Figure 6: 2 4 circular polarization antenna array simulation model.

As can be seen from Fig. 4, the maximum radiation direction is 0 achieving a maximum gain
of 8 dB at the operating frequency. The main lobe width is greater than 90 with good directivity.
Fig. 5 shows axial ratio characteristic and it can be seen the antenna axial ratio is less than 6 dB
in 70 70 cone angle of the space which meets the requirements.

Usually a single microstrip patch antenna array attains 7 dB gain and it will increase by about 3 dB
if the number of units doubles. Here, this paper designed an array of 2 4 to meet the requirements
of project, including the horizontal 3 dB beam width larger than 30 and vertical 3 dB beam width
larger than 12 . 8 patch antenna units are placed on the plate 440 mm 140 mm 5 mm. The
array inter-element space is 0.5 0.75 in general, which means 115 mm in x axis and 45 mm in y
axis. The optimized horizontal and vertical space are 110 mm and 40 mm respectively. Simulation
model is shown in Fig. 6.

PIERS Proceedings, Xian, China, March 2226, 2010


Figure 7: Polarized axial ratio.

Figure 8: Radiation pattern of antenna array.

Figure 9: Top and bottom view of 2 4 circular polarization antenna array.

Figure 10: Measurements of array.

From this model, the axis ratio and the directivity of antenna array are shown in Fig. 7, Fig. 8.
Figure 7 shows the axial ratio of antenna array is better than the requirement by 6 dB. Fig. 8
shows radiation pattern of antenna array. In the direction of maximum radiation, the gain is close
to 17 dB with good directivity which fully meets the design requirements.

Based on the simulated results of the antenna array, it was fabricated and tested. Fig. 9 shows the
top and bottom view of the array.
The antenna array is placed inside a cylindrical radome used as a receiving antenna, as shown in
Fig. 10. The circular polarization antenna array was placed in the microwave chamber, measured
radiation pattern with E8363B vector network analyzer [7].
After measurement, the maximum gain of antenna array is about 16 dB, as shown in Fig. 11.
And the main lobe as well as the side lobe conform well with the simulation results of software HFSS
in Fig. 8. The error of gain is about 1 dB, caused by a variety of factors, such as the accuracy of
simulation software, mutual coupling between modules, the accuracy of fabrication, measurement
instruments error and so on.

Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium Proceedings, Xian, China, March 2226, 2010


Figure 11: Measured E-plane pattern.


In this paper, based on empirical formula and Ansoft HFSS10.0, a circular polarization microstrip
antenna array in the S-band is designed, simulated, fabricated and measured. The test results
consist well with simulation results of Ansoft HFSS and meet the design requirements. The antenna
array attains a simple compact structure and high gain of 16 dB at 2491 MHz.

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microstrip antennas, IEEE Trans. Antennas Propagat., Vol. 41, 214220, Feb. 1993.
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microstrip antennas with an optimized C-type feed anda short horn, IEEE Transactions on
Antennas and Propagation, Vol. 56, No. 2, Feb. 2008
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