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Aperture Antennas
1 Introduction
Very often, we have antennas in aperture forms, for
example, the antennas shown below:

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Pyramidal horn antenna

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Conical horn antenna

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Paraboloidal antenna

Slot antenna

2 Analysis Method for Aperture Antennas


2.1 Uniqueness Theorem
An electromagnetic field (E, H) in a lossy region is uniquely
specified by the sources (J, M) within the region plus (i) the
tangential component of the electric field over the boundary,
or (ii) the tangential component of the magnetic field over
the boundary, or (iii) the former over part of the boundary
and the latter over the rest of boundary. The case for a
lossless region is considered to be the limiting case as the
losses go to zero. Here M is the magnetic current density
assumed that it exists or its existence is derived from M = E
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n, where E is the electric field on a surface and n is the


normal vector on that surface. (For a proof, see ref. [3])
2.2 Equivalence Principle

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Actual problem

Equivalent problem

For the actual problem on the left-hand side, if we are


interested only to find the fields (E1, H1) outside S (i.e.,
V2), we can replace region V1 with a perfect conductor as
on the right-hand side so that the fields inside it are zero.
We also need to place a magnetic current density
Ms=E1n on the surface of the perfect conductor in order
to satisfy the boundary condition on S. Now for both the
actual problem and the equivalent problem, there are no
sources inside V2. In the actual problem, the tangential
component of the electric field at the outside of S is E1n.
In the equivalent problem, the tangential component of the
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electric field at the outside of S is also E1n as a magnetic


current density Ms=E1n has been specified on S already.
Hence by using the uniqueness theorem, the fields (E1,
H1) in V2 in the equivalent problem will be the same as
those in the actual problem.
Note that the requirement for zero fields inside V1 is to
satisfy the boundary condition specified on the tangential
component of the electric field across S. Because now in
the equivalent problem just outside S, the electric field is
E1 while there is also a magnetic current density Ms. But
just inside S, the electric field is zero. Hence on S,

(E1 0)n = E1 n = Ms
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This is exactly the boundary condition specified on the


tangential component of the electric field across S with an
added magnetic current source.
The advantage of the equivalent problem is that we can
calculate (E1, H1) in V2 by knowing Ms on the surface of a
perfect conductor.
A modified case with practical interest is shown below.

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Only equivalent

Twice the magnetic current is


Aperture fields
required
Ground plane knowncurrent radiates

equivalent
magnetic
in free space
n

V1

Ea, Ha M = Ea
V1

2,2

(a)
Aperture in a ground plane

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ns
V2

V2

V2V1

Aperture

1, 1

2,

1,12

(b)
Equivalent problem

2,
2,2

(c)
Equivalent problem
after using image
theorem

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Thus the problem of an aperture in a perfectly conducting


ground plane is equivalent to the finding of (i) the fields in
V2 due to an equivalent magnetic current density of Ms
radiating in a half-space bounded by the ground plane, or
(ii) the fields in V2 due to an equivalent magnetic current
density of 2Ms radiating in a free space having the
properties of V2. Note that for the equivalent problem in
(c), the field so calculated in V1 may not be equal to the
original fields in V1 in actual problem in (a).
To find the electromagnetic field due to a magnetic current
density Ms, we need to construct an equation with the
source Ms and solve it.
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2.3 Radiation of a Magnetic Current Density


Maxwells equations with a magnetic current source
with Ms

with

H = jE
E = jH
E = Ms jH H = J + jE
B = m
D = 0

D =
B = 0

When there is only a magnetic current source Ms, an


electric vector potential F can be defined similar to the
magnetic vector potential A.
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with Ms
E

with

1
=

F + k F = Ms
2

F R(

)=4
R

e jkR

A + k 2A = J

Ms (R' R dv' (A R) = 4

e jkR

v'

J R( '

dv' '

Hence if there is only a magnetic current source, E can


be calculated from the electric vector potential F, whose
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solution is given about. In general, when there are both


magnetic and electric current sources, E and H can be
calculated by the superposition principle.
Far-Field Approximations
When the far-field of aperture radiation is interested, the
following approximations can be used to simplify the
factor
(see ref. [1]):e jkRR
R r rcos,
R r,

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for numerator
for denominator

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(r , , )
R'

(r, , )

Then,
(F R

e jkr

( )

'e

jkr cos

dv '

v'

e jkr

where
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L=

M (R' e)
s

dv'

jkrcos

v'

a xM x (R')+ a yM y (R')+ a zM z (R')e jkr


cos
dv'

v'

In spherical coordinates (see ref. [1]),


L a= rLr +aL
+a L
where
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L=(M x cos cos +M y cos sin M z sin)e


cos
dv'

jkr

v'

L=(M x sin+M y cos)e jkrcosdv'


v'

Lr =(M x sin cos +M y sin sin M z cos)e


cos
dv'

jkr

v'

1
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E=

F
H, =
E j

For far fields (see ref. [3], Chapter 3),


E = jF
E = + jF
E
H =
E
H = +

e jkr
F =
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L
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r jkr e
F = 4r L Note: there is no
need to know Fr. Hence there is
no need to find Lr.

Example 1
Find the far-field produced by a rectangular aperture opened
on an infinitely large ground plane with the following

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aperture field distribution:

Solutions
The equivalent magnetic current density is:
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Ms = Ea a z = a y a zE0 = a xE0
a2 x a2
b2 y b2
M x = E0, M y = 0, M z = 0
Actually, there
is no need to
findLr.

L =

cos cos e jkrcosds

L = M x sine jkrcosds
s

Lr =
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M x sin cos e jkrcosds


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rcos= r a r

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= (a x x+a y y)

( a

sincos+ a y sin sin + a z

cos)
= xsin cos+ ysin sin
After using the image theorem to remove the ground plane, we
have:
b
2

L = cos

cos

jkx
+y sin sin

( sin cos

dx dy
)

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Me

2a2

2 a 2

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= 2abE0 cos cos sin


XX sin

From image theorem


kb

ka
sincos ,

X=

YY

Y=

sinsin

Similarly,

L=2abE0 sin sin


YY
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XX sin

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Therefore,
F =

4e jkrr L =
2e jkrr abE0 cos
cos sin
XX sin
YY

e jkr e jkr sin sin X sinY F=


4r L=
Y

2r abE0

The E and H far-fields can be found to be:


Er = 0
E = jF =
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E = + jF
jkr
j abkE e20r cos cossin

= j abkE e20r
XX sin
YY
jkr
sinsin
XX
sin
YY

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Aperture Antennas

Hr = 0
E
H =

E
H =

The radiation patterns are plotted on next page.

Three-dimensional field pattern of a constant field rectangular aperture opened on an


infinite ground plane (a=3, b=2 )

E-plane
H-plane

Two-dimensional field patterns of a constant field rectangular aperture opened on an


infinite ground plane (a=3, b=2 )

3. Parabolic Reflector Antennas


Parabolic reflector antennas are frequently used in radar
systems. They are very high gain antennas. There are
two types of parabolic reflector antennas: 1. Parabolic
right cylindrical reflector antenna This antenna is
usually fed by a line source such as a dipole antenna
and converts a cylindrical wave from the source into a
plane wave at the aperture.
2. Paraboloidal reflector antenna
This antenna is usually fed by a point source such as
a horn antenna and converts a spherical wave from
the feeding source into a plane wave at the aperture.

Parabolic reflector antennas

A typical paraboloidal antenna for satellite communication

3.1 Front-Fed Paraboloidal Reflector Antenna

Important geometric parameters and description of a


paraboloidal reflector antenna:

0 = Half subtended angle


d = Aperture diameter
f = focal length
Defining equation for the paraboloidal surface:
OP + PQ = constant = 2f
Physical area of the aperture Ap:
2

Ap =
2
The half subtended angle 0 can be calculated by the
following formula:
1 f

= 2 d
tan 1
0

2
f

d16

Aperture Efficiency ap
Aem maximum effective area ap
==
Ap

physical area
2

= cot2 20 f G (')tan
0
2'd
'
Directivity: maximum directivity = 42 Aem
=d2ap

D0 =

Feed Pattern Gf()


The feed pattern is the radiation pattern produced by the
feeding horn and is given by:
2(n+1)cos ( '),

' / 2 Gf (') = 0,
'

0
/ 2

where n is a number chosen to match the directivity of


the feed horn.

The above formula for feed pattern represents the


major part of the main lobe of many practical feeding
horns. Note that this feed pattern is axially symmetric
about the z axis, independent of .
With this feed pattern formula, the aperture efficiency
can be evaluated to be:
2

ap(n= 2) = 24sin220 +ln cos20


cot220

ap(n = 4) = 40sin420 + ln cos20


cot220

ap (n = 6) =14 2 ln cos20 +[1


cos(3 0)]3

1sin (2 )

cot220
20


1 cos (4 0)

ap (n = 8) =18 4 2 2ln

cos 0
[1 cos(0)]3 12sin (2 0)cot2
20
3

)ap

Effective Aperture (Area) Aem


With the aperture efficiency, the maximum effective
aperture can be calculated as:
Aem = Apap
2

physical area =
d
A=
2
p

Radiation Pattern
The radiation pattern of a paraboloidal reflector antenna
is highly directional with a narrow half-power

beamwidth. An example of a typical radiation pattern is


shown below.

An example of the radiation pattern of a paraboloidal reflector antenna


with an axially symmetric feed pattern. Note that the half-power
beamwidth is only about 2.

Example 2
A 10-m diameter paraboloidal reflector antenna with an f/d
ratio of 0.5, is operating at a frequency = 3 GHz. The
reflector is fed by an antenna whose feed pattern is axially
symmetric and which can be approximated by:
6cos ( '),
2 Gf (') =
0,

0 ' /

/ 2 '

(a) Find the aperture efficiency and the maximum


directivity of the antenna.
(b) If this antenna is used for receiving an
electromagnetic wave with a power density Pavi = 10-5
W/m2, what is the power PL delivered to a matched load?
Solution
(a) With f/d = 0.5, the half subtended angle 0 can be
calculated.

12 2df =

tan1(0.512()0.52 )1 = 53.13

0 = tan

d 16
16

From the feed pattern, n = 2. Hence using the aperture


efficiency formula with n = 2, we find:

ap (n = 2) =

24

{sin (26.57 +) ln cos 26.57[


)]} cot (26.57)

= 0.75 = 75%
2

maximum

directivity

=d ap

D0 =

10 0.75 = 74022.03 = 48.69 dB

0.1
(b) Frequency = 3 GHz, = 0.1 m.
2

Maximum effective area = Aem =

D0

= 58.9 m2

4
PL

Aem = PL

Ae (, )=
Pavi Pav (, )
Hence, PL = A Pemavi = 58.9 10

Pavi
5

= 5.89 10

References:
1. C. A. Balanis, Antenna Theory, Analysis and Design, John Wiley &
Sons, Inc., New Jersey, 2005.
2. W. L. Stutzman and G. A. Thiele, Antenna Theory and Design, Wiley,
New York, 1998.
3. R. F. Harrington, Time-Harmonic Electromagnetic Fields, McGrawHill, New York, 1962, pp. 100-103, 143-263, 365-367.