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A Comparison of Antenna Efficiency

Measurements Performed in Two Reverberation
Chambers Using Non-reference Antenna Methods
Chong Li1, Tian-Hong Loh1, Zhi Hao Tian2, Qian Xu2, and Yi Huang2

Introduction
Reverberation chambers (RCs) have recently attracted a lot of attention for measuring total
antenna efficiency due to their simplicity, cost-effectiveness and broad bandwidth features.
Conventionally, a reference antenna with known efficiency is required; however, recently
non-reference antenna methods have been proposed where no reference antenna is
required [1]. These methods not only remove the uncertainty that a reference antenna may
introduce, but also further simplify the measurement process. In order to evaluate the
methods and assess the chamber effects on the measurement results, we have

inter-compared the antenna radiation efficiencies measured in two different RCs at the
UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the University of Liverpool, using two of the nonreference antenna methods (namely the one-antenna method and the two antenna method).
A directional antenna and an omni-directional antenna are used for this study. It has been found
that the difference between the results is relatively small with a maximum up to around 10%
within their operational frequency bands. These results demonstrate that the non-reference
antenna measurement techniques, especially the two-antenna method, are robust.

Theory

Results and discussion

S21REF

Working volume

Reference antenna method

Comparisons of the electrical characteristics of the two RCs

REF

1. Calibrate VNA up to antennas’ inputs
2. Measure S21REF & S22REF at each stirrer step
3. Measure S21AUT & S22AUT at each stirrer step
4. Apply the known efficiency, hREF, of the
reference antenna to (1) (Note: the symbol < >

Paddle/Stirrer

S21AUT

(a)

(b)

Tx

S22REF

S22AUT
AUT

Port 2

Port 1

VNA

(1)

Non-reference antenna method:
the one and two antenna methods

Working volume
AUT 1

1. Calibrate VNA up to antennas’ inputs
2. Measure two-port S-parameters at each stirrer step
3. Derive and apply RC’s parameters (CRC , eb , and τRC )
and the stirred energy
into (2)
(2.1)

Paddle/Stirrer

S21, US
S21, S

B

AUT 2

S11, S
S22, S

(b) shows the decay constants of the two RCs
are different.

S11, US

(c) shows the enhanced backscatter coefficient
of the NPL’s RC at that test position is slightly
poorer than that of the Liverpool’s RC

S22, US

Port 2

Port 1

VNA

(2.2)
(3)

CRC is the chamber constant of the RC

(a) shows QTD and QFD of NPL’s RC are higher
than those of Liverpool’s RC.

(c)

A

Comparisons of electrical characteristics of the two AUTs

eb is the enhanced backscatter coefficients of the RC

(4)

(a) shows the reflection, transmission coefficients
and the averaged received power measured in
the two RCs agree very well.

(a)

τRC is the decay constant of the RC
(5.1)

(b) shows efficiency difference of the logperiodic antenna measured at the two RCs using
the two-antenna method is less than 10%.

(5.2)

(c) shows efficiency difference of the bi-conical
antenna measured at the two RCs using the twoantenna method is less than 5%.

k is the slope of the linear part of the exponential PDP
(6)
For two-antenna method, (2) to (6) apply, whereas for one-antenna method, eb = 2 as the
RC is assumed to be perfectly uniform. Note that from (6), the measured S-parameters can
be expressed as a sum of unstirred component, Sij, us and stirred component, Sij, s.

(b)

(c)

Experimental set ups
Parameter

NPL

Liverpool

RC dimensions (m)

6.55 X 5.85 X 3.5

3.6 X 4 X 5.8

1

2

(vertical)

(vertical & horizontal)

R&S ZVB8

Keysight N9917A 

No. of Stirrers
VNA
No. of Stirrer Steps per Rev
Frequency Span (MHz)
No. Frequency Sampling Pts
Frequency Step (kHz)
IF BW (Hz)

359
200-1200
10001
100
100

AUTs

Additional findings
Log-periodic 9143

We found that the 10% discrepancy in the efficiency of the directional antenna obtained using the two-antenna
method may be due to the polarisation of the antenna when placed in the RCs. In order to verify this, we tested
two horn antennas (ETS-Lindgren double-ridged horn antenna 3117 1 - 18 GHz) in NPL’s RC with different
combinations of polarisations e.g. VP-VP, VP-HP, etc. The results show that efficiency may vary up to 15% .
(a)

(b)

Schwarzbeck Log-periodic 9143

ANT 1

(operating frequency range 250 MHz – 7 GHz)

Schwarzbeck Biconical 9113

ANT 2

(operating frequency range 500 MHz – 3 GHz)

Frequency Stirring BW (MHz)
IFFT BW (MHz)
Time Resolution (ns)

20
100
10

Double-ridged
horn 3117

Biconical 9113

Test set ups

Test set up

Conclusions
The two RCs differ in dimensions and paddle stirrer configuration and hence in Q-factors, decay
constants and enhanced backscatter coefficients.

LPDA 9143

NPL

Biconical 9113

The radiation efficiencies of the antennas measured using the two-antenna method between the two
RCs agree fairly well with slightly better agreement for the omnidirectional antenna (<5 %) than for the
directional antenna (<10 %).
LIVERPOOL

Further investigation shows that the 10% discrepancy for the directional antenna may be due to the
polarisation mismatch. Therefore polarisation stirring is recommended to achieve better accuracy,
especially for directional antennas.
These results indicate the robustness of the non-reference antenna method.

References

www.npl.co.uk

[1] C. L. Holloway, et al., “Reverberation Chamber Techniques for Determining
the Radiation and Total Efficiency of Antennas,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas
and Propagation, vol. 60, pp. 1758-1770, Apr. 2012.

Acknowledgements
Dr C. Li and Dr T.-H. Loh was supported by the 2014 – 2016 Electromagnetic Technologies
Programme of the National Measurement Office, an Executive Agency of the UK Department
for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), under Project Number 116774.

National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, TW11 0LW, UK
chong.li@npl.co.uk, tian.loh@npl.co.uk

1

Department of Electrical Engineering & Electronics, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
zhihao.tian@liv.ac.uk, qian.xu@liv.ac.uk, yi.huang@liv.ac.uk

2

© Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO, 2015.

Paddle Stirrer(s)

11512/1015

A directional antenna and an omnidirectional antenna were measured in two different RCs at NPL and
the University of Liverpool.