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Considerations for Conical Horn Antenna Design optimizing Cerenkov radiation

from hollow cylindrical dielectric tube

Hristo Badakov
University of California Los Angeles

Most general engineering sources on horn antenna design suggest a simple

relation between aperture and length, optimizing the directivity and gain of the emitted
radiation at given wavelength. One approach to this optimization problem is to consider
the path length difference δ between a ray traveling along the side and along the axis of
the horn (Fig.1). For horn with the parameters defined as:

θ = flare angle
D= aperture
L= horn length (defined as the distance from the end of the waveguide to the end of the
δ = path length difference
δ 0 = optimal path length difference

d L L

Fig. 1 Conical horn antenna Side view

Assuming δ L , and applying geometrical arguments, it can be shown that:

L= ,

δ= −L.
cos(θ / 2)

To obtain as uniform an aperture distribution as possible, a very long horn with small
flare angle is required. From practical considerations, however, the horn should be as
short as possible. An optimal horn has the minimum beamwidth without excessive side-
lobe level for a given length. If δ is sufficiently small fraction of the wavelength, the field
has uniform phase over the entire aperture. For a constant length L, the directivity of the
horn increases (beamwidth decreases) as the aperture D and angle θ are increased.
However, if the aperture (flare angle) becomes large enough so that δ reaches certain
value δ0, a phase reversal at the edges of the aperture causes increase of the side lobes
and reduction in the directivity. It follows that the maximum directivity occurs at the
largest aperture for which δ ≤ δ0. From this, the optimal dimensions are simply defined
L= (1)
8δ 0
δ0 = − L.
cos(θ / 2)

It has been found that the value of δ0 is usually in the range 0.1-0.4 free space
wavelengths. For conical horn Kraus (quoting King) gives the optimal δ0 = 0.32λ.
Substituting in (1) gives:
D2 D2
L= ≈ 0.39 (2)
2.56λ λ

In an alternative treatment of the same optimization problem Wolff suggests the relation:
L' = .3
But in his approach L' is defined as the length from the vertex of the cone to the end of
⎛ d⎞
the antenna. To convert to L the geometric relationship L = L ⎜ 1 − ⎟ can be used,

⎝ D⎠
where d is the diameter of the circular waveguide or the smaller diameter of the antenna.
D2 ⎛ d ⎞
Thus L = .3 1− (3)
λ ⎜⎝ D ⎟⎠
For d D this reduces to L = .3 which is similar to (2)

Calculations on horn antennas for optimizing Cerenkov radiation from hollow

cylindrical dielectric tube:

The different modes of Cerenkov radiation are approximated by the relation


4(b − a )
λn ≅ ε −1
Where a is the inner radius of the hollow dielectric tube; b is the outer radius; ε is the
electrical permittivity of the dielectric; and λn is wavelength of the n-th harmonic of the
induced Cerenkov radiation. For a fused silica the electrical permittivity at 1 MHz is ε =
3.8. For outer radius b = 179.5µm and inner radius a = 50 µm or 100 µm, the first 10
harmonics are listed in table 1.

a = 50µm a = 100µm
n λn (µm) λn (µm)
1 866.78 532.116
2 433.39 266.058
3 288.927 177.372
4 216.695 133.02
5 173.356 106.423
6 144.463 88.686
7 123.826 76.0165
8 108.347 66.5145
9 96.3089 59.124
10 86.678 53.2116
Table 1

The roll-off wavelength λn ≅ 2πσ z (where σz is the Rms bunch length) determines the
maximum λn of detectable power. For σ z = 20 µ m the roll-off wavelength is λn =
88.8577. For the harmonics of interest λ8 = 108.3 (a = 50µm) and λ5 = 106.4 (a = 100µm)
and variable horn length L, the optimal aperture D is calculated using equation (2).

λ8 = 108.3, a = 50µm, b = 179.5µm λ5 = 106.4, a = 100µm, b = 179.5µm

L (mm) D (mm) L (mm) D (mm)
10 1.67 10 1.65
15 2.04 15 2.02
20 2.36 20 2.34
Table 2

1. Kraus, J.D., Marhefka, R,J., “Antennas: for all applications”- 3rd ed., McGraw-
Hill, New York, 2002.
2. Wolff, E.A., “Antenna Analysis” Artech House, Norwood, MA, 1988
3. Rosenzweig1, J.B., Hoover1, S., Colby2, E., Hogan2, M., Muggili3, P., Noble2, R.,
Palmer2, D., Siemann2, R., Thompson1, M., Travish1, G., Waltz2, D., Yoder1, R.,
“An Ultra-High Gradient Cerenkov Wakefield Acceleration Experiment at SLAC
FFTB”, 1UCLA Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, 2SLAC, 3University of
Southern California.