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Transactions on Antennas and Propagation

Compact Tapered Slot Antenna Array for 5G

Millimeter-Wave Massive MIMO Systems
Binqi Yang, Zhiqiang Yu, Member, IEEE, Yunyang Dong, Jianyi Zhou, Member,IEEE,
and Wei Hong, Fellow, IEEE

A low-complexity metallic tapered slot antenna array for
Antenna Array UE1
millimeter-wave multi-beam massive MIMO communication is PA Stream1
proposed in this paper. Good beamforming performance can be

achieved by the developed antenna array because the element Stream2

spacing can easily meet the requirement of half-wavelength in the UE2

H-plane. The antenna element is fed by a substrate integrated
waveguide (SIW), which can be directly integrated with the
Stream N
millimeter-wave circuits. The proposed tapered slot antenna is Base Station UE N
fabricated and measured. Measured results show that the
reflection coefficient is lower than -15dB (VSWR1.45) within Fig. 1. Millimeter-wave communication system model for the multi-user
the frequency range from 22.5 to 32 GHz, which covers the MIMO beamforming.
24.25-27.5 GHz band proposed by ITU and the 27.5-28.35 GHz
band proposed by FCC for 5G. The gain of the antenna element with multiple data streams simultaneously (see Fig. 1). These
varies from 8.2 to 9.6 dBi over the frequency range of 24-32 GHz. advanced antenna techniques bring many challenges to the
The simulated and measured results also illustrate good radiation design and implementation of the RF subsystems and antennas.
patterns across the wide frequency band (24-32 GHz). A 1x4 Associated with these applications is the demands of the
H-plane array integrated with the multi-channel millimeter-wave
millimeter-wave antenna with low cost, low complexity,
transceivers on one PCB is demonstrated and excellent
performance is achieved. wideband, good integration ability and compact size.
An antenna array with large element spacing will introduce
Index TermsMillimeter-wave antennas, antenna array, high sidelobes and then cause multi-user interference (as shown
MIMO, substrate integrated waveguide (SIW), beamforming in Fig. 2). Thus, the requirement of the antenna element spacing
in the beamforming system is around half-wavelength. It puts
forward challenges to millimeter-wave antenna design. Besides,
I. INTRODUCTION due to the large loss and expensive cost of the connectors and
cables for the millimeter-wave band, it is desired to integrate
T HE millimeter-wave communication is regarded as one of
the most potential solution for the exponentially expanding
wireless data traffic in the future, due to the wide usable
the antenna array with the transceivers without cable
connection, especially in the user equipment (UE) or called the
spectrum in the millimeter-wave band [1], [2]. However, the mobile station (MS), which is spatially constrained.
radio waves suffer large path-loss and limited scattering in the Horn antennas have excellent bandwidth and gain in the
millimeter-wave band. To solve this problem, some advanced millimeter-wave band. But its bulky shape and complex feed
antenna array techniques are adopted in 5G millimeter-wave section lead to difficulties in array application and integration
communication systems, such as the massive multiple-input- with planar circuits. Some novel miniature millimeter-wave
multiple-output (MIMO) technique and the beamforming antennas have been developed recently [5]-[10], however, most
technique [2]-[4]. These techniques can provide high array gain, of them do not meet the demands of 5G millimeter-wave
anti-interference and better signal coverage. Besides, the MIMO communication systems.
beamforming techniques enable the base station (BS) to In this paper, a broadband millimeter-wave tapered slot
achieve a higher spectrum efficiency by serving multiple users antenna with low-complexity and compact size is proposed.
The tapered slot antenna is a good candidate for millimeter-
wave communication systems, owing to its medium gain and
Manuscript received October 29, 2016; revised XXX; accepted XXX. Date wide operation bandwidth. The proposed antenna can realize
of publication XXX. This work is supported by the National Natural Science
Foundation of China (NSFC) under Grant 61401093.
H-plane array with half-wavelength element spacing. The
The authors are with the State Key Laboratory of Millimeter Waves, antenna element is a SIW-fed metallic tapered slot antenna with
Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China (e-mail:; a new type of transition between the SIW and the tapered slot.;;;
The antenna exhibits good impedance matching and radiation
patterns over a wide frequency band. Moreover, the SIW
feeding structure allows the antenna array to be integrated with

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Transactions on Antennas and Propagation

330 30 d=0.5
300 60

Brief 3D View
270 90 CPWG to SIW
sidelobe transition

Fig. 2. Effects of the element spacing on the radiation pattern. (1x8 H-plane
array arranged in horizontal direction)
240 120 SIW
other planar circuits easily. The developed antenna has been
used in the prototype of a 5G millimeter-wave multi-beam
210 150
massive MIMO communication 180
system successfully. Substrate


A. Antenna Configuration for 5G mmWave Communication structure
In addition to the half-wavelength element spacing and the
integration ability with planar circuits, there are more practical
requirements proposed by the 5G millimeter-wave MIMO Fig. 3. Structure diagram of the proposed tapered slot antenna.
beamforming systems. The first is that the vertical polarization
is used in the proposed 5G massive MIMO BS, although dual
polarization is widely utilized in current low-band BS to
achieve better performance by using the polarization diversity.
The dual polarization configuration will double feeding paths
and increase the complexity of the millimeter-wave transceiver
array. Second, given that most of the users and the scatters are
spread horizontally, most beams are formed in the horizontal
plane (H-plane). Thus, arranging the array in the H-plane with
half-wavelength element spacing is required, and the H-plane
beamwidth should be wider to obtain a large beam scanning
angle. Similarly, at the UE side, arranging the array in the
H-Plane is prior to that in the E-plane. Finally, the proposed
antenna is intended for millimeter-wave digital beamforming
(DBF) communication system. The DBF architecture provides
Fig. 4. Dimensions of the proposed tapered slot antenna element.
high flexibility and the greatest performance, but is also the
most complicated in terms of the hardware implementation. TABLE I
Each antenna element needs to be associated with a complete PARAMETERS OF THE PRESENTED ANTENNA ELEMENT WITH CENTER
RF chain and a baseband processing unit (BBU). The
Parameter Value Parameter Value Parameter Value
developed 5G millimeter-wave MIMO prototype contains one
Wa 2.5 mm p 0.6mm H0 6 mm
BS and nine UEs. A 4-element DBF H-plane array is employed
Wg 5.7 mm d 0.3 mm H1 0.9 mm
in each UE. Compared to the RF phased sub-array in [4] which
Wt 3 mm s 0.4 mm H2 4.1 mm
can only support one data steam, this DBF array can support Lt 5.5 mm L1 1.5 mm Hsub 0.254 mm
four data streams. The antenna configuration of the BS consists R 2.5 mm L2 8.4 mm W50 0.72 mm
of 64 antenna elements, which are grouped into four 26 L3 5.1 mm
independent horizontal H-plane arrays. The vertical stack
spacing of the four H-plane arrays has no restriction because linear tapered slot is formed by the top and bottom metallic
the multiple streams supported by different H-plane arrays are structure. The tapered slot structure fed by the SIW directly is
non-coherent. Thus, H-plane array with half-wavelength perpendicular to the SIW feeding board. The geometry of the
element spacing is required for the UE as well as the BS. antenna element are shown in Fig. 4. The presented tapered slot
The proposed antenna is suitable for the BS as well as the UE. antenna is designed to operate at a center frequency of 28 GHz
But in the final developed prototype of 5G millimeter-wave
and the detail design parameters are listed in Table I. The
MIMO communication system, another type of antenna is
antenna is modeled and simulated by using ANSYS HFSS.
employed in the BS side and the proposed antenna is used in the
nine UEs. The SIW feeding board is constituted by three parts: a
CPWG (grounded coplanar waveguide) to SIW transition [11],
B. Antenna Element [12], a SIW feeding section and a SIW to tapered slot vertical
As shown in Fig. 3, the proposed antenna element consists of transition. The CPWG-SIW transition is used to transform the
a SIW feeding board and two metallic structures. A piecewise 50 microstrip transmission line to the SIW. The SIW serves

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as feeding network owing to the properties of low-loss and 10

excellent integration ability. The SIW section is realized by the
top and bottom metallic layers and two arrays of metalized via 5
holes on the substrate. The dominant mode is TE10 mode in the

SIW. The lower operation frequency is limited by the cutoff 0
frequency of the TE10 mode, which is given as follows [13]: H-plane

-1 -5 Wa=1mm
fc (TE10 ) c0 2 r Weff (1) Wa=2mm
-10 Wa=6mm
where c0 is the speed of light in vacuum and Weff is the
equivalent dielectric-filled rectangular waveguide width of the -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Angle of Radiation(degree)
SIW. The equivalent width Weff is given approximately by [13]:
Weff Wg d 2 0.95 p (2)
where Wg is the spacing between the two rows of metallic via
holes, d is the diameter of the metallic via holes and p is the 5

center to center distance between the adjacent metallic via holes.

To ensure single-mode operation, the higher-order modes
should be avoided. The upper bound of the width Wg for E-plane
-5 Wa=1mm
single-mode operation is: Wa=2mm

d2 c Wa=4mm

Wg Weff 0 0
-10 Wa=6mm
0.95 p r f0 r -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Angle of Radiation(degree)
where 0 is the free space wavelength. The lower bound of (b)
width Wg can be derived from (1). Thus, the acceptable value Fig. 5. Radiation patterns of the antenna element with different tapered slot
width Wa. (a) H-plane pattern (b) E-plane pattern
range of the width Wg is determined by: 0
0 d2 0 d2
W (4)
2 0.95 p
r r 0.95 p
Considering the operation bandwidth and tolerance, the best


strategy is to set the width Wg to the median. The optimal width

of the SIW Wg_opt can be derived from (4), as follows -30 Wa=1mm
30 d 2
Wg _ opt = (5) -40 Wa=6mm
4 r 0.95 p
18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36
Another constraint is that the width of SIW should be less Frequency(GHz)
than or equal to the half-wavelength. From (5), the optimal Fig. 6. Reflection coefficient of the antenna element with different Wa.
width will decrease with the increase of the relative dielectric
vertical transition between SIW and metallic tapered slot is
constant. The optimal width can be realized when the relative
formed by this structure. The currents on top and bottom metal
dielectric constant of the substrate is sufficiently large. Rogers
of the SIW flow in opposite direction. Then, a wideband
RT/Duroid 5880 substrate with a relative dielectric constant of
balance excitation is formed at the end of the SIW. Due to the
2.2 and a thickness of 0.254 mm is used for this design.
similar field modes of the SIW section and the metallic tapered
Because the final antenna array needs to be integrated with the
slot, good matching of impedance and field is achieved over a
transceiver circuits on the same substrate, the relative dielectric
wide bandwidth. The metallic tapered slot is positioned at the
constant of 2.2 is determined by the substrate used for the
center of the SIW to suppress even-mode excitation. The shape
millimeter-wave transceivers. The optimal width of the SIW is
of the tapered slot is optimized for impedance matching.
Wg _ opt =0.50560 0 (6) The radiation pattern of the antenna mainly depends on the
0.95 p 2 shape of the tapered slot. The radiation performance of the
It can be seen that the optimal width is slightly larger than antenna with different tapered slot width Wa is analyzed. No
half-wavelength. Thus, the nearly optimal design can be extra geometry optimization is performed for each width. Fig.
achieved by setting the width Wg to half-wavelength and 5(a) shows that the H-plane beamwidth is increased as the
sharing the metalized via holes between adjacent antenna width Wa is reduced. In order to obtain a wide scanning angle,
elements. Wa should be as small as possible. However, the reflection
The SIW extended with a substrate taper is clamped by the coefficient suffers significant deterioration when the width Wa
metallic tapered slot at the open-circuit end. A wideband is scaled down too much, as is shown in Fig. 6. The dependence

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80 0
Averaged |S11|
Beamwidth in H-plane(deg.)


Averaged |S11|(dB)

60 -15


40 -30
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0/2 0/2
Fig. 7. Dependence of the H-plane beamwidth and averaged S11 (from 24 GHz
to 32 GHz) on the width Wa of the tapered slot. Fig. 8. Structure of the H-plane antenna array with half-wavelength element
of the H-plane beamwidth and the averaged reflection Baseband Module
mmW Transceiver
coefficient (from 24 GHz to 32 GHz) on the width Wa is shown DAC
in Fig. 7, from which the proper width Wa can be obtained. As a 1 2X
trade-off between impedance matching and radiation pattern,
the proper tapered slot width Wa is I2+jQ2
Wa c0 (4 1.2 f 0 )

With this width, the antenna has a very good reflection 3 2X



coefficient and a wide H-plane beamwidth. If the width
continues to be reduced, the reflection coefficients will IN+jQN

deteriorate rapidly, however, the increase of the H-plane N 2X

IF Module mmW Front End
Digital Beamforming
beamwidth is very insignificant. The simulated reflection precoding
2.75GHz IF LO 12.625GHz LO

coefficient is lower than -20 dB from 24 GHz to 32 GHz. The

Fig. 9. The transmitter architecture of the developed millimeter-wave DBF
beamwidth of the H-plane and the E-plane are about 70 degree system.
and 40 degree, respectively. Obviously, the polarization of the
proposed antenna element is vertical to the substrate.
C. Antenna Array and Digital Beamforming
As mentioned in part B, the nearly optimal array design can
be achieved by setting the width Wg to half-wavelength when
the relative dielectric constant is 2.2. In this case, the feeding
SIW of the adjacent antenna elements need to share the same
metalized via holes. As an array example, a simplified structure Fig. 10. Photograph of the fabricated tapered slot antenna element.
of the compact H-plane array with four elements is designed
and is demonstrated in Fig. 8. But the array configuration is not
confined to that. The antenna array with eight or more elements,
which are arranged with half-wavelength spacing, can also be
realized on one substrate. The vertical stack size for two
dimensional array is 1.1 0. The antenna array can be connected
to the millimeter-wave transceiver circuits by the SIW instead
of cables and connecters. Additional benefit of the H-plane
array is the wider beam scanning range.
Each antenna element in DBF architecture is connected to a
complete RF chain, which includes a millimeter wave mmW Front-End & Antenna Array 17mm

transceiver, digital-to-analog converters, analog-to-digital Fig. 11. Photograph of the multi-channel millimeter-wave transceivers and
converters and one BBU. The simplified DBF architecture in the 1x4 H-plane antenna array at UE.
our work is shown in Fig. 9. The signal phase on each antenna
element is controlled within 0~360 degree arbitrarily by using III. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
the DBF precoding in the BBU. For a given desired beam angle
The photograph of the fabricated antenna element is shown
b, the configuration can be determined by the equation:
in Fig. 10. Fig. 11 shows the photograph of the prototype of the
=n 1 n 2 sin b 0 ,(n 1, 2,..., N 1) (8) 5G millimeter-wave UE. In each UE, the fabricated 1x4
where is the antenna element spacing and denotes the H-plane array is integrated with the four-channel broadband
phase-difference of the adjacent antenna elements. millimeter-wave transceivers, which are connected to a BBU.

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-40 24 GHz

20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36
Fig. 12. Measured and simulated reflection coefficient of the antenna element.

Simulated 28 GHz
24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Fig. 13. Measured and simulated gain of the proposed antenna element.

A. Reflection Coefficient and Impedance Bandwidth

Fig. 12 shows the simulated and measured reflection
coefficient S11. It can be seen that the measured reflection
coefficient is lower than -15dB (VSWR 1.45) from 22.5 GHz 32 GHz
to 32 GHz and the impedance bandwidth is about 47%, with Fig. 14. Measured and simulated radiation patterns of the proposed antenna
|S11| -10 dB from 21 GHz to 34 GHz , which is in good element.
agreement with the simulated results in HFSS. The slight SIMULATED AND MEASURED HALF-POWER BEAMWIDTHS
difference between the measurement and the simulation may be (UNITS: DEGREE)
caused by the mechanical deviations and the dielectric constant Frequency E-Plane H-Plane
deviation of the substrate. (GHz) Simulated Measured Simulated Measured
24 48 47 90 79
B. Radiation Performance
28 44 42 72 69
Measurements on the radiation pattern and gain are 32 42 42 70 62
accomplished in a millimeter-wave far-field anechoic chamber.
Fig. 13 plots the simulated and measured gain. The measured C. Discussion
gain varies from 8.2 to 9.6dBi over the frequency range from 24 Focusing on the major requirements of antenna used for the
GHz to 32 GHz, which is about 0.6-1 dB lower than the millimeter-wave MIMO beamforming system, a comparison
simulated result. The simulated and measured normalized between the proposed antenna and other antenna in previous
radiation patterns at 24 GHz, 28 GHz and 32 GHz are shown in works is given in Table IV. The dielectric loaded SIW horn
Fig. 14. The measured results are well matched with the antenna in [5] can realize H-plane array on one substrate, but
simulated results. The simulated and measured beamwidths of the element spacing is 0.9 0 and the bandwidth is narrow. The
the proposed antenna element are listed in Table II. The magneto-electric dipole antenna in [6] has wide bandwidth, but
H-plane and E-plane beamwidths of the antenna element at the element sizes in H-plane and E-plane are both 0. The SIW
28GHz are 69 and 42, respectively. The measured results cavity antenna in [7] and the cavity-backed rectangular patch
illustrates good radiation characteristics across a wide antenna in [8] have small element sizes. In [7], the antenna
frequency band from 24 GHz to 32 GHz. element sizes in H-plane and E-plane are both 0.5 0. But the
The antenna array is arranged in horizontal direction to scan feeding SIW requires the extra space, which is around 0.28 0.
the beam in azimuth plane. The distance between the center Thus, it seems impossible to realize half-wavelength element
positions of the adjacent antenna elements is 5.7mm. The DBF spacing in both H-plane and E-plane with these antenna
precoding configuration for 0, 17.5 and 35 beam elements in [7], [8]. A practical problem to be solved is the
angles are calculated and listed in Table III. The radiation feeding network of two dimensional arrays. Each antenna
patterns versus angle of radiation are shown in Fig. 15. The element needs to be connected to a transceiver chain or a
main beam can be scanned from -35to 35within 3dB gain phase-shifter path in the beamforming system, thus the
fluctuation. The sidelobe levels are approximately -9dB. elements should be excited by using independent feeding paths

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Center Impedance Peak Beamwidth Effective size
Ref. Freq. bandwidth gain H-/E-plane for array
(GHz) |S11|< -10dB (dBi) (Deg.) (H-/ E-plane)
[5] 27 1.5% 9.1 60 / 80 0.9 0 / n.a.
[6] 55 51% 8 n.a. 0 / 0
[7] 35 13% 6 76.8 / 92.1 0.50 /0.5 0 (1)
[8] 38 15.6% 6.5 70.4 / 97.2 0.750/0.450(1)
[9] 30 66.6% 12.2 48 / 59 n.a. / 0.84 0
[10] 33 42.4% 11.7 56 / 39 n.a / 2.26 0
28 47% 9 69 / 42 0.5 0 / 1.1 0
1. The space for the feeding SIW is not counted.

Fig. 15. Radiation patterns of the proposed 1x4 H-Plane antenna array with beamforming application. A 1x4 H-plane antenna array is
the digital beamforming precoding at 28GHz. fabricated and integrated with 4-channel millimeter-wave
TABLE III transceivers. Good beamforming performance is demonstrated
(UNITS: DEGREE) and a -9dB side lobe level is achieved. The proposed antenna
Beam Beamforming Precoding Configuration has the advantages of low complexity, wideband, good
Angle radiation performances and high integration ability. Moreover,
the small effective occupied size in the H-plane make it very
-35 165 55 -55 -165
-17.5 86 29 -29 -86
suitable for millimeter- wave MIMO beamforming systems and
0 0 0 0 0 other millimeter-wave phased array applications.
17.5 -86 -29 29 86
35 -165 -55 55 165 REFERENCES
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