In the 1890s, there were only a few antennas in the world. These rudimentary devices were primarily a part of experiments that demonstrated the transmission of electromagnetic waves. By World War II, antennas had become so ubiquitous that their use had transformed the lives of the average person via radio and television reception. The number of antennas in the United States was on the order of one per household, representing growth rivaling the auto industry during the same period. By the early 21st century, thanks in large part to mobile phones, the average person now carries one or more antennas on them wherever they go (cell phones can have multiple antennas, if GPS is used, for instance). This significant rate of growth is not likely to slow, as wireless communication systems become a larger part of everyday life. In addition, the strong growth in RFID devices suggests that the number of antennas in use may increase to one antenna per object in the world (product, container, pet, banana, toy, cd, etc.). This number would dwarf the number of antennas in use today. Hence, learning a little (or a large amount) about of antennas couldn't hurt, and will contribute to one's overall understanding of the modern world.

Antenna Theory History
What is the origin of antennas? I'm ruling out compasses, because while they in some sense receive a magnetic field, its not an electromagnetic field. Ben Franklin's kite experiment wasn't quite an antenna, as that captured lightning discharge, which is a direct current path where the energy is not transferred independent of the medium it travels. The human eye of course receives high frequency electromagnetic waves (light, to the layman). Technically the eye could be classified as an antenna; however since it can't transmit waves, it is really a sensor, so I'll exclude that as well. The first experiments that involved the coupling of electricity and magnetism and showed a definitive relationship was that done by Faraday somewhere around the 1830s. He slid a magnetic around the coils of a wire attached to a galvanometer. In moving the magnet, he was in effect creating a time-varying magnetic field, which as a result (from Maxwell's Equations), must have had a time-varying electric field. The coil acted as a loop antenna and received the electromagnetic radiation, which was received (detected) by the galvanometer - the work of an antenna. Interestingly, the concept of electromagnetic waves had not even been thought up at this point.

A painting of Michael Faraday. Being a great experimentalist, he naturally dabbled in chemistry, shown here. Heinrich Hertz developed a wireless communication system in which he forced an electrical spark to occur in the gap of a dipole antenna. He used a loop antenna as a receiver, and observed a similar disturbance. This was 1886. By 1901, Marconi was sending information across the atlantic. For a transmit antenna, he used several vertical wires attached to the ground. Across the atlantic, the receive antenna was a 200 meter wire held up by a kite [1]. In 1906, Columbia University had an Experimental Wireless Station where they used a transmitting aerial cage. This was a cage made up of wires and suspended in the air, resembling a cage [2]. A rough outline of some major antennas and their discovery/fabrication dates are listed:
yYagi-Uda Antenna, 1920s yHorn antennas, 1939. Interesting, the early antenna literature discussed waveguides as "hollow metal pipes". yAntenna Arrays, 1940s yParabolic Reflectors, late 1940s, early 1950s? Just a guess.

yPatch Antennas, 1970s. yPIFA, 1980s.

Current research on antenna involves metamaterials (materials that have engineered dielectric and magnetic constants, that can be simultaneously negative, allowing for interesting properties like a negative index of refraction). Current research focuses on making antennas smaller, particularly in communications for personal wireless communication devices (e.g. cell phones). A lot of work is being performed on numerical modeling of antennas, so that their properties can be predicted before they are built and tested. Antenna Basics Lets get right down to the study of antennas and Antenna Fundamentals. Suppose one day you're walking down the street and a kind but impatient person runs up and asks you to design an antenna for them. "Sure", you quickly reply, adding "what is the desired frequency, gain, bandwidth, impedance, and polarization?" Or perhaps you have never heard of (or are a little rusty) on the above parameters. Well then, you've come to the right place. Before we can design an antenna or discuss antenna types, we must understand the basics of antennas, which are the fundamental parameters that characterize an antenna. So let us learn something. We'll start with frequency and step through radiation patterns, directivity and gain, and ultimately close with an explanation on why antennas radiate. Jump ahead if this is already familiar to you.

Beginner Level (or preliminaries):

Frequency is one of the most important concepts in the universe and to antenna theory, which we w isn't too complicated.

Antennas function by transmitting or receiving electromagnetic (EM) waves. Examples of these elec the light from the sun and the waves received by your cell phone or radio. Your eyes are basically "r up electromagnetic waves that are of a particular frequency. The colors that you see (red, green, blue frequencies that your eyes can detect.

time in seconds. whatever). a variation is given in Figure 2. We science (length measured in meters.All electromagnetic waves propagate at the same speed in air or in space. . we must define what a "electromagnetic wave" is. A traveling electric field has an associate the two make up an electromagnetic wave. a radio tower. EM waves vary with space (position) and time. This speed (the speed of li miles per hour (1 billion kilometers per hour). This is roughly a million times faster than the speed o miles per hour at sea level). The universe allows these waves to take any shape. the sun.mass in kilograms). The speed of light will be denoted as c in the equations that follow. The most important shape though is the sinusoid Figure 1. so we will forever remembe Before defining frequency. The spatial variation is given in Figure 1. This is an electric field some source (an antenna.

.Figure 1. A Sinusoidal Wave plotted as a function of position.

The frequency (written f ) is simply the number of complete cycles the wav function of time) in one second (two hundred cycles per second is written 200 Hz. it repeats itself every T seconds. wavelength and th . The wave is periodic.Figure 2. The equation that relates frequency. or 200 "Hertz"). A Sinusoidal Wave plotted as a function of time. The speed that the waves travel is how fast the waves are oscillating in time (f the step the waves are taken per period ( tattooed on your forehead: ). Plotted as a function in space. M as: How fast someone walks depends on the size of the steps they take (the wavelength) multipled by th steps (the frequency). it repeats itself will call the wavelength.

Basically. This power variation as a function of the arrival angle is observed in the antenna's far field. And since all EM wa the faster it oscillates the shorter the wavelength. and actually it probably should. As an example. consider the 3-dimensional radiation pattern in Figure 1. plotted in decibels (dB) . the frequency is just a measure of how fast the wave is oscillating. as will be explained in the "m frequency. Radiation Pattern A radiation pattern defines the variation of the power radiated by an antenna as a function of the direction away from the antenna. . But it is of fundamental importance. And a longer wavelength implies a slower freque This may sound stupid. When I was young I remember scientists d could never see why it mattered.

Example radiation pattern for an Antenna (generated with F This is an example of a donut shaped or toroidal radiation pattern. If you're unfamiliar with radiation patterns or spherical coordinates. the radiation patterns are plotted in 2-d. . along the z-axis. because it is simpler. Two-dimensional Radiation Patterns. the patterns are given as "slices" through the 3d plane. which would correspond to the radiation directly overhead the antenna. Since the radiation pattern in Figure 1 is symmetrical around as a constant in Figure 2. In the x-y plane (perpendicular to the z-axis). Standard spherical coordinates are used. The same pattern in Figure 1 is plotted in Figure 2. The radiation pattern on the left in Figure 2 is the elevation p plot of the radiation pattern as a function of the angle measured off the z-axis (for a fixed azimuth an we see that the radiation pattern is minimum at 0 and 180 degrees and becomes maximum broadside off the z-axis). These plots are useful for visualizing which directions the antenna radiates. and is the angle measured off the z- is the angle measured counterclockwise off the x-axis. This corresponds to the plot on the left in Figure 2. Antennas with isotropic in practice. but are sometimes discussed as a means of comparison with real antennas. where axis. it may take a while to see that F radiation pattern as shown in Figure 1. In this case. Figure 2. Typically. The radiation pattern on the right in Figure 2 is the azimuthal plot. A pattern is "isotropic" if the radiation pattern is the same in all directions. the radiation is maximum. In this case. It is a function of the azimuthal a (90 degrees off the z-axis in this case). there is very little power transmitted.Figure 1.

Some antennas may also be described as "omnidirectional". The third category of antennas are "directional". which do not have a symmetry in the radiation patt typically have a single peak direction in the radiation pattern. this is the direction where the bulk of These antennas are very common. or the radiation pattern on the righ omnidirectional antennas include the dipole antenna and the slot antenna. An example of a highly directional radiation pattern (from a dish ant Figure 3. examples of antennas with highly directional radiation patterns in the slotted waveguide antenna. which for an actual antenna means that isotropic in a single plane (as in Figure 1 above for the x-y plane. the radiation pattern is a plot which allows us to visualize where the antenna transmits Field Regions Previous: Radiation Patterns Antenna Fundamentals Menu Antennas Tutorial (Home) The fields surrounding an antenna are divided into 3 principle regions: y Reactive Near Field y Radiating Near Field or Fresnel Region y Far Field or Fraunhofer Region . Directional Radiation Pattern for the Dish Anten In summary.

Also. as you might suspect. This helps ensure the fields in the far-field region behave like means "much much greater than" and is typically assumed satisfied if the left side is 10 times larger . a communicate wirelessly from long distances. with the E. so the power dies off as 1/R^2). Also. then the following 3 conditions must all be sat region: [Equation 1] [Equation 2] [Equation 3] The first and second equation above ensure that the power radiated in a given direction from distinc approximately parallel (see Figure 1). so this is the region of operation for most antennas. as this determines the antenna's radiation pattern. W Far Field (Fraunhofer) Region The far field is the region far from the antenna. In this region.The far field region is the most important.and H-fields orthogonal to each other and the direction of propagation as with pla If the maximum linear dimension of an antenna is D. this regi fields. the radiation pa with distance (although the fields still die off as 1/R.

the fields are orthogonal (perpendicular) but are in phase).Figure 1. which fall off with d The far-field region is sometimes referred to as the Fraunhofer region. which means the E. below). that typically have the E-fields and H-fields die off with distance as and ensures that these near fields are gone. . In this region. where does the third far-field equation come from? Near a radiating antenna.and H. we have the reactive near field. the fields ar fields. there are reac field region. The Rays from any Point on the Antenna are Approximately Parallel in th Finally. a carryover term from optics Reactive Near Field Region In the immediate vicinity of the antenna.fields are out of phase by 90 degrees to each other (recall that for fields. and we are left with the radiating fields.

the above can be summarized via the following diagram: Figure 2. In this region dominate. this field may or may not exist. Finally. Illustration of the Field Regions for an Antenna of Maximum Linear Dim Next we'll look at numerically describing the directionality of an antenna's radiation pattern. the radiating fields begin to emerge. . However. here the shape may vary appreciably with distance. unlike the Far Field region.The boundary of this region is commonly given as: Radiating Near Field (Fresnel) Region The radiating near field or Fresnel region is the region between the near and far fields. The region is commonly given by: Note that depending on the values of R and the wavelength.

Mathematically. but the numerator is the maximum value of F. and the directivity of this type of antenna would be 1 (or 0 dB). which gives the directivity of the antenna. but the angular variation is described by its radiation pattern. the formula for directivity (D) is written as: This equation for directivity might look complicated. . directivity throughout this page will mean peak directivity. and the denominator just represents the "average power radiated over all directions". It is a measure of how 'directional' an antenna's radiation pattern is. An antenna that radiates equally in all directions would have effectively zero directionality. Directivity is technically a function of angle. This equation then is just a measure of the peak value of radiated power divided by the average.Directivity Directivity is a fundamental antenna parameter.] An antenna's normalized radiation pattern can be written as a function in spherical coordinates: [Equation 1] A normalized radiation pattern is the same as a radiation pattern. Hence. what is meant is 'peak directivity'. because it is rarely used in another context. just scaled in magnitude such that the peak (maximum value) of the magnitude of the radiation pattern (F in equation [1]) is equal to 1. [Silly side note: When a directivity is specified for an antenna.

Directivity Example As an example consider two antennas. Using Equation [1]. and determine which has a higher directivity without using any mathematics. one with radiation patterns given by: Antenna 1 Antenna 2 These radiation patterns are plotted in Figure 1. hence we expect the directivity to be lower. . and not a function of the azimuth angle (uniform in azimuth). But to check your understanding. Plots of Radiation Patterns for Antennas. Figure 1. Note that the patterns are only a function of the polar angle . we can figure out which antenna has the higher directivity. Which has the higher directivity?. The radiation pattern for antenna 1 is less directional then that for antenna 2. you should think about Figure 1 and what directivity is.

then you should design an antenna with a low directivity. In contrast. the directivity of an antenna can vary over several order of magnitude. using Equation [1]: The directivity is calculated for Antenna 1 to be 1.273 (1. if you get a directTV dish.64 3. Conversely. if you are doing remote sensing. and the antenna should pick it up. computer wifi). A Little Bit of Antenna Design .707 (4. to give you an idea of what is seen in practice. Antenna 1 would receive 1. The isotropic antenna is used as a common reference. mobile phones. Antennas for cell phones should have a low directivity because the signal can come from any direction. Again.The results of the directivity calculation.15 5-8 10-20 10-40 Typical Directivity (dB) As you can see from the above table. Antenna Type Short Dipole Antenna Half-Wave Dipole Antenna Patch (Microstrip) Antenna Horn Antenna Dish Antenna 1.76 2. Hence.2-6. As an example. or targetted power transfer (example: received signal from a mountain top). In words.273 times the power of an isotropic antenna. increased directivity implies a more 'focused' or 'directional' antenna. Finally. The directivity is calculated for Antenna 2 to be 2. because they are to receive signals from a fixed direction.707 times more power in its peak direction than an isotropic antenna would receive. it is important to understand directivity in choosing the best antenna for your specific application. satellite dish antennas have a very high directivity.000 Typical Directivity 1. we'll conclude with a list of antenna types and their directivities. they will tell you where to point it such that the antenna will receive the signal. you want a high directivity antenna.05 dB). If you need to transmit or receive energy from a wide variety of directions (example: car radio.5 1.3 10-100 10-10. Antenna 2 receives 2. to maximize power transfer and reduce signal from unwanted directions. even though no isotropic antennas exist.32 dB).

That is. we'll need antennas that are many wavelengths in size. Why is this? [I don't know how to explain this without getting mathematical. gain. How do we accomplish this? The general rule in Antenna Theory is that you need an electrically small antenna to produce low directivity. When you take the Fourier Transform of a short a halfwavelength in size). a high directivity). [Side Note: Antenna Impedance is discussed in a later section. half-wave dipole antennas or halfwavelength slot antennas typically have directivities less than 3 dB. Antenna Efficiency and Gain Previous: Directivity Antenna Fundamentals (Menu) (Home) Antennas Antenna Efficiency The efficiency of an antenna relates the power delivered to the antenna and the power radiated or dissipated within the antenna. or reflected away due to impedance mismatch. That is. That is. we can't make antennas much smaller than a quarter-wavelength without sacrificing antenna efficiency (the next topic) and antenna bandwidth. if you use an antenna with a total size of 0. The analogy is present in determining the radiation pattern of an antenna: the pattern can be thought of as the Fourier Transform of the antenna's current or voltage distribution.5 (a quarter. for antennas with a high directivity. it has to do with the properties of the Fourier Transform. As a result. antennas such as dish (or satellite) antennas and horn antennas have high directivity. then you will minimize directivity. you get a broad frequency spectrum. small antennas have broad radiation patterns (low directivity).25 . we can move on to the next antenna concept. in part because they are many wavelengths long. "impedance mismatch". Conversely. Ultimately. A low efficiency antenna has most of the power absorbed as losses within the antenna. sorry!] Ultimately.0.Let's say we decide that we want an antenna with a low directivity. hence. Impedance Mismatch is simply power reflected from an antenna because it's impedance is not the correct value. A high efficiency antenna has most of the power present at the antenna's input radiated away. ] . Now that we know what directivity is. which is about as low of a directivity as you can obtain in practice. and antennas with large uniform voltage or current distributions have very directional patterns (and thus.

with gains lower than -10 dB (even without accounting for impedance mismatch loss). horn antennas. Antenna Gain The term Gain describes how much power is transmitted in the direction of peak radiation to that of an isotropic source. Gain is more commonly quoted in a real antenna's specification sheet because it takes into account the actual losses that occur. or half-wavelength dipoles with no lossy materials around them. Directivity can be as low as 1. Impedance matching can greatly improve the efficiency of an antenna. the peak gain of an antenna can be arbitrarily low because of losses or low efficiency. Gain (G) can be related to directivity (D) by: [Equation 3] The gain of a real antenna can be as high as 40-50 dB for very large dish antennas (although this is rare). Gain is sometimes discussed as a function of angle. but can never theoretically be less than 0 dB. typically have efficiencies from 20%-70% (-7 to -1. Electrically small antennas (small relative to the wavelength of the frequency that the antenna operates at) can be very inefficient. Mobile phone antennas. these tend to absorb some of the radiated power (converting the energy to heat). It can be very close to 100% (or 0 dB) for dish. The radio link is maintained because the AM Broadcast tower uses a very high transmit power. The losses are often due to the electronics and materials that surround the antennas. . A gain of 3 dB means that the power received far from the antenna will be 3 dB (twice as much) higher than what would be received from a lossless isotropic antenna with the same input power. Improving impedance mismatch loss is discussed in the Smith Charts and impedance matching section. which greatly lowers antenna efficiency. but when a single number is quoted the gain is the 'peak gain' over all directions. Car radio antennas can have a total antenna efficiency of -20 dB (1% efficiency) at the AM radio frequencies.Efficiency is one of the most important antenna parameters. However. this is because the antennas are much smaller than a half-wavelength at the operational frequency. or wifi antennas in consumer electronics products.5 dB).76 dB for a real antenna. which lowers the efficiency of the antenna.

as will be seen in that section. the radiation patterns of antennas are also characterized by their beamwidths and sidelobe levels (if applicable). The polar (polar angle measured off of z-axis) plot is given by: . Figure 1. The 3-dimensional view of this radiation pattern is given in Figure 1.Beamwidths and Sidelobe Levels Previous: Efficiency and Gain Antenna Fundamentals Home: Antenna Theory In addition to directivity. Consider the radiation pattern given by: This pattern is actually fairly easy to generate using Antenna Arrays. These concepts can be easily illustrated. 3D Radiation Pattern.

7 and 102.7 = 24.3 degrees.5 dB. The sidelobes are smaller beams that are away from the main beam.3-77. From Figure 2. Hence. Polar Radiation Pattern. The sidelobes in Figure 2 occur at roughly 45 and 135 degrees. . the Sidelobe Level is another important parameter used to characterize radiation patterns. These sidelobes are usually radiation in undesired directions which can never be completely eliminated.Figure 2.6 degrees. the pattern goes to zero (or minus infinity) at 60 degrees and 120 degrees. Another commonly quoted beamwidth is the Null to Null Beamwidth. the pattern decreases to -3 dB at 77. From Figure 2. the Sidelobe Level (SLL) is -14. Hence the HPBW is 102. This is the angular separation from which the magnitude of the radiation pattern decreases to zero (negative infinity dB) away from the main beam. From Figure 2. Finally. the Null-Null Beamwidth is 120-60=60 degrees. The main beam in Figure 2 is centered at 90 degrees. The sidelobe level is the maximum value of the sidelobes (away from the main beam). The main beam is the region around the direction of maximum radiation (usually the region that is within 3 dB of the peak of the main beam). The Half Power Beamwidth (HPBW) is the angular separation in which the magnitude of the radiation pattern decrease by 50% (or -3 dB) from the peak of the main beam.

To spell it out. the current will have an amplitude of 1/50 = 0. Then the impedance has a magnitude of and a phase given by This means the phase of the current will lag the voltage by 45 degrees. This is extremely important as we will see. Let's say an antenna has an impedance of 50 ohms. Let's say the impedance is given as Z=50 + j*50 ohms (where j is the square root of -1).02 Amps. The real part of an antenna's impedance represents power that is either radiated away . the voltage is in-phase with the current. This means that if a sinusoidal voltage is input at the antenna terminals with amplitude 1 Volt. which relates the voltage and current at the input to the antenna.Antenna Impedance Previous: Beamwidths and Sidelobes Antenna Fundamentals Antenna Tutorial (Home) An antenna's impedance relates the voltage to the current at the input to the antenna. if the voltage (with frequency f) at the antenna terminals is given by then the current will be given by So impedance is a simple concept. Since the impedance is a real number.

considering both the low frequency and high frequency cases. Circuit model of an antenna hooked to a source. 5 meters could be short or very long. The equivalent circuit of this is shown in Figure 1. The power that is delivered to the antenna can be easily found to be (recall your circuit theory. However. we will now explain why this is important. While simple. at 2 GHz. Figure 1. At 60 Hz. The imaginary part of the impedance represents power that is stored in the near field of the antenna (non-radiated power). the transmission line that connects the transmitter or receiver to the antenna is short. the wavelength is 15 cm. so the little length of line within your cell phone can often be considered a 'long line'. Basically. the wavelength is about 3100 miles. and that P=I*V): .or absorbed within the antenna. Low Frequency When we are dealing with low frequencies. so the transmission line can almost always be neglected. depending on what frequency we are operating at. Hence. Consider an antenna (which is represented as an impedance given by ZA) hooked up to a voltage source (of magnitude V) with source impedance given by ZS. Short in antenna theory always means "relative to a wavelength". An antenna with a real input impedance (zero imaginary part) is said to be resonant. it is reasonably considered a short line. if the line length is less than a tenth of a wavelength. Note that an antenna's impedance will vary with frequency.

In low-frequency circuit theory.If ZA is much smaller in magnitude than ZS. So if ZS=30+j*30 ohms. in which case maximum power transfer occurs when ZA=ZS. a short circuit has an impedance of zero ohms. unless the antenna is matched to the transmission line. and it isn't always easy to design an antenna with the right impedance. . then no power will be delivered as well. they make things very different. then for maximum power transfer the antenna should impedance ZA=30-j*30 ohms. The impedance is to be measured at the end of a transmission line (with characteristic impedance Z0) and Length L. the wires that connect things don't matter. It turns out that this is one of the fundamental design parameters for an antenna. Typically. However. For instance. the source impedance is real (imaginary part equals zero). Once the wires become a significant fraction of a wavelength. the impedance appears to be infinite. For maximum power to be transferred from the generator to the antenna. its impedance must not be too large or too small. even though there is a dc conduction path. we now know that for an antenna to work properly. the ideal value for the antenna impedance is given by: The * in the above equation represents complex conjugate. if the impedance is measured at the end of a quarter wavelength transmission line. In general. Consider the situation shown in Figure 2. the transmission line will transform the impedance of an antenna. High Frequency This section will be a little more advanced. making it very difficult to deliver power. then no power will be delivered to the antenna and it won't transmit or receive energy. If ZA is much larger in magnitude than ZS. The end of the transmission line is hooked to an antenna with impedance ZA. Hence.

not very much power will be delivered to the antenna. then the input impedance does not depend on the length of the transmission line. that the input impedance Zin is given by: This is a little formidable for an equation to understand at a glance. Hence. which can be a problem in itself (especially if high power is transmitted). see the transmission line tutorial. we see that having a tuned impedance for an antenna is extremely important. It turns out (after studying transmission line theory for a while). although this doesn't always work over a sufficient bandwidth (bandwidth is the next . This power ends up being reflected back to the generator. And if the input impedance isn't well matched to the source impedance. the happy thing is: If the antenna is matched to the transmission line (ZA=ZO). If the antenna is not matched. A poorly matched antenna will not radiate power. the input impedance will vary widely with the length of the transmission line. However.Figure 2. For more information on transmission lines. VSWR We see that an antenna's impedance is important for minimizing impedance-mismatch loss. This loss of power is known as impedance mismatch. This makes things much simpler. High Frequency Example. This can be somewhat alleviated via impedance matching.

Note that the above does not imply that 96% of the power delivered to the antenna is transmitted in losses must still be taken into account. This statement implies that the reflection coefficient is less than 0. power reflected by an antenna on a transmission line interferes with the forward travelling power . however. For more information.which can be numerically evaluated by the quantity Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR). A common measure of how well matched the antenna is to the transmission line or receiver is known as the Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR).and this creates a standing voltage wave .0 indicates about 75% of the power is delivered to the antenna (1. a VSWR of 7. we'll look at the very important antenna parameter known as bandwidth. Often.5. A VSWR of 6 or more is pretty high and will generally need to be improved. A VSWR of 1 indicates no mismatch loss (the antenna is perfectly matched to the tx line). see the page on VSWR and VSWR Specifications. This describes the range of frequencies over properly radiate or receive energy.0 indicates 44% of the power is delivered to the antenna (3.topic). Higher values of VSWR indicate more mismatch loss. The parameter VSWR sounds like an overly complicated concept.2)=-13. the radiation pattern will vary with frequency. a VSWR of 3.98 dB. In general. only 4% of the power is reflected back to the transmit return loss S11=20*log10(0. an antenna may be described as ope with a VSWR<1. the desired bandwidth is one of the determining paramete antenna.25 dB of mismatch loss). Also. For instance. VSWR is a real number that is always greater than or equal to 1. The antenna Q also r . The bandwidth is often specified in terms of its Fractional Bandwidth (FBW). an antenna may be described as having circular polarization with an axial ratio<3dB fr polarization bandwidth sets the range over which the antenna's operation is roughly circular. In the next section on antenna basics. This may be the polariza for instance.2 across the q Hence. of the power delivered to the antenna. As an example of common VSWR values. the shape of the radiation pattern do There are also other criteria which may be used to characterize bandwidth. many antenna types have very narrow bandwidths and cannot be used for wid Bandwidth is typically quoted in terms of VSWR. Bandwidth is another fundamental antenna parameter. For instance.6 dB of mismatch loss).

consider the single frequency E-field given by equation (1). Polarization of Plane Waves Polarization (or Polarisation for our British friends) is one of the fundamental characteristics of any antenna. where the field is traveling in the +z-direction. In equation (1). As an example. 2008-2011. the symbol is a unit vector (a vector with a length of one). Linear Polarization Let's start by understanding the polarization of a plane electromagnetic wave. First we'll need to understand polarization of plane waves. . and the magnetic field is in the +ydirection. the electric field and the magnetic field are perpendicular to each other and to the direction the plane wave is A plane electromagnetic (EM) wave is characterized by travelling in a single direction (with no field variation in the two orthogonal directions). A plane wave is illustrated graphically in Figure 1.Next Topic: Polarization of Waves Antenna Fundamentals Antennas (Home) This page on bandwidth is copyrighted. In this case. then we'll walk through the main types of antenna polarization. which says that the E-field "points" in the x-direction. the E-field is oriented in the +x-direction. No portion can be reproduced or copied without permission antenna-theory.

0) as a function of time for the plane wave described by equation (1) above. . The field is oscillating at frequency f. consider the E-field observed at (x. Polarization is the figure that the E-field traces out while propagating.Figure 1.y. The amplitude of this field is plotted in Figure 2 at several instances of time. As an example.0.z)=(0. Graphical representation of E-field travelling in +z-direction.

For instance. always directed along the x-axis. this field would be said to be linearly polarized. .Figure 2. In addition. If the field was oriented along the y-axis. Observed at the origin. a wave with an E-field constrained to lie along the line shown in Figure 3 would also be linearly polarized. this wave would be said to be "vertically polarized" (or v-pole). A linearly polarized wave does not need to be along the horizontal or vertical axis. Because the E-field stays along a single line.y.0) at different times.z)=(0.0. Observation of E-field at (x. if the x-axis was parallel to the ground. this field could also be described as "horizontally polarized" (or sometimes h-pole in the industry). the E-field oscillates back and forth in magnitude.

The E-field now has an x.components are 90 degrees out of phase. . Locus of E-field amplitudes for a linearly polarized wave at an angle.0.Figure 3.0) again as before. the plot of the E-field versus time would appear as shown in Figure 4. One thing to notice about equation (2) is that the x.and y. Circular Polarization Suppose now that the E-field of a plane wave was given by equation (3): In this case. equal in magnitude.and y-components of the E-field are in phase .they both have the same magnitude and vary at the same rate.and ycomponent.z)=(0. the x. If the field is observed at (x. The E-field in Figure 3 could be described by equation (2).y.

the field would be Left Hand Circularly Polarized (LHCP). y The E-field's orthogonal components must have equal magnitude. the field will end up Elliptically Polarized. Elliptical Polarization If the E-field has two perpendicular components that are out of phase by 90 degrees but are not equal in magnitude. (3). If the fields were rotating in the clockwise direction. the field is rotating in the counter-clockwise direction and is said to be Right Hand Circularly Polarized (RHCP). To have circular polarization. the following criteria must be met: Criteria for Circular Polarization y The E-field must have two orthogonal (perpendicular) components.0. y The orthogonal components must be 90 degrees out of phase. Consider the plane wave travelling . E-field strength at (x.Figure 4.y. This type of field is described as a circularly polarized wave. If the wave in Figure 4 is travelling out of the screen. The E-field in Figure 4 rotates in a circle.0) for field of Eq.z)=(0.

An elliptically polarized wave with an eccentricity of 1. If the E-field vector was rotating in the opposite direction. elliptical polarization is defined by its eccentricity.3 = 3. with E-field described by equation (4): The locus of points that the tip of the E-field vector would assume is given in Figure 5. The wave of equation (4) has a major axis given by the x-axis. Tip of E-field for elliptical polarized wave of Eq. the field would be Left Hand Elliptically Polarized. note that circular polarization and linear polarization are both special cases of elliptical polarization. we will use the knowledge of plane-wave polarization to characterize and . an elliptically polarized wave with an infinite eccentricity is a linearly polarized wave. which is the ratio of the major and minor axis amplitudes. and if travelling out of the screen would be Right Hand Elliptically Polarized.33. Finally. Note that the major axis can be at any angle in the plane. it does not need to coincide with the x-.0 is a circularly polarized wave. Figure 5. For instance. Elliptically polarized waves are further described by the direction of the major axis. The field in Figure 5. (4). or z-axis. the eccentricity of the wave given by equation (4) is 1/0. y-. travels in the counter-clockwise direction. In the next the +z-direction. In addition.

the angle is 90 degrees and no power will be transferred. If one antenna is vertically polarized and the other is horizontally polarized. This simple concept is important for antenna to antenna communication. the power loss due to this polarization mismatch will be described by the Polarization Loss Factor (PLF): Hence. Consequently. Hence. this explains why moving the cell phone on your head to a different angle can sometimes increase reception. The polarization of an antenna is the polarization of the radiated fields produced by an antenna. a vertically polarized antenna transmits and receives vertically polarized fields. Hence. if a horizontally polarized antenna is trying to communicate with a vertically polarized antenna. Polarization of Antennas Now that we are aware of the polarization of plane-wave EM fields. if both antennas have the same polarization. antenna polarization is straightforward to define. Due to the reciprocity theorem. Two antennas that are both circularly polarized do not suffer signal loss due to polarization mismatch. First. a horizontally polarized antenna will not communicate with a vertically polarized antenna. for two linearly polarized antennas that are rotated from each other by an angle . there will be no reception. evaluated in the far field. Antennas used in GPS systems are Right Hand Circularly Polarized. Circular polarization is a desirable characteristic for many antennas. so rotating the phone can often match the polarization of the phone and thus increase reception. antennas transmit and receive in exactly the same manner. suppose a circularly polarized antenna is trying to receive a linearly polarized wave. In general. Suppose now that a linearly polarized antenna is trying to receive a circularly polarized wave. Cell phone antennas are often linearly polarized. Equivalently. the angle between their radiated E-fields is zero and there is no power loss due to polarization mismatch. What is the resulting Polarization Loss Factor? .understand antennas. As a side note. antennas are often classified as "Linearly Polarized" or a "Right Hand Circularly Polarized Antenna".

the LP antenna will have a polarization mismatch loss of 0. the effective area simply represents how much power is captured from the plane wave and delivered by the antenna.Recall that circular polarization is really two orthongal linear polarized waves 90 degrees out of phase. Then the effective aperture parameter describes how much power is captured from a given plane wave. etc. This area factors in the losses intrinsic to the antenna (ohmic losses. All of these names refer to the same concept. dielectric losses. If P represents the power at the antennas terminals available to the antenna's receiver. a linearly polarized (LP) antenna will simply pick up the in-phase component of the circularly polarized (CP) wave. or by calculation using the measured gain and the . Let W be the power density of the plane wave (in W/m^2).5 (-3dB).). Assume that a plane wave with the same polarization as the receive antenna is incident upon the antenna. As a result. no matter what the angle the LP antenna is rotated to. Therefore: The Polarization Loss Factor is sometimes referred to as polarization efficiency. Hence. Effective Area (Effective Aperture) Previous: Polarization Antenna Basics Antennas (Home) A useful parameter calculating the receive power of an antenna is the effective area or effective aperture. or antenna receiving factor. A general relation for the effective aperture in terms of the peak gain (G) of any antenna is given by: Effective aperture or effective area can be measured on actual antennas by comparison with a known antenna with a given effective aperture. then: Hence. antenna mismatch factor. Further assume that the wave is travelling towards the antenna in the antenna's direction of maximum radiation (the direction from which the most power would be received).

Derivation of Friis Transmission Formula To begin the derivation. go to the next section on the Friis transmission formula. Assume that Watts of total power are delivered to the transmit antenna. For the moment. Friis Transmission Formula Previous: Effective Aperture Antenna Fundamentals Antennas (Home) On this page. and that the receive antenna is in the far field of the transmit antenna. To see this in action. and operating at frequency f or wavelength lambda. the Friis Transmission Equation. Effective aperture will be a useful concept for calculating received power from a plane wave. Then the power p of the plane wave incident on the receive antenna a distance R from the transmit antenna is given by: . assume that the transmit antenna is omnidirectional. This page is worth reading a couple times and should be fully understood. Transmit (Tx) and Receive (Rx) Antennas separated by R. consider two antennas in free space (no obstructions nearby) separated by a distance R: Figure 1. lossless. separated by a distance R. we introduce one of the most fundamental equations in antenna theory. The Friis Transmission Equation is used to calculate the power received from one antenna (with gain G1). when transmitted from another antenna (with gain G2).above equation.

Assume now that the receive antenna has an effective aperture given by .If the transmit antenna has a gain in the direction of the receive antenna given by power equation above becomes: . we have the Friis Transmission Formula in terms of frequency: . then the The gain term factors in the directionality and losses of a real antenna. and should be remembered (as well as the derivation above). This is one of the fundamental equations in antenna theory. Since wavelength and frequency f are related by the speed of light c (see intro to frequency page). Another useful form of the Friis Transmission Equation is given in Equation [2]. antenna gains and wavelength to the received and transmit powers. It relates the free space path loss. Then the power received by this antenna ( ) is given by: Since the effective aperture for any antenna can also be expressed as: The resulting received power can be written as: [Equation 1] This is known as the Friis Transmission Formula.

This means that for antennas with specified gains. the cell phone makers will have to fit an antenna with a larger wavelength in a compact device (lower frequency = larger wavelength). they can "cover more ground" with this frequency spectrum. but from Equation [2]. This is why mobile phones generally operate at less than 2 GHz. At very high frequencies (60 GHz is sometimes referred to as the mm (millimeter wave) region). you might state that the path loss will be too high for long range communication . Friis Transmission Equation says that the path loss is higher for higher frequencies. we note that the path loss will therefore be lower as well.[Equation 2] Equation [2] shows that more power is lossed at higher frequencies. that operates at 700MHz? The answer is yes: this is a lower frequency than antennas traditionally operate at. This occurs when the receiver and transmitter are in the same room. Said in a different way.and you are absolutely correct. Equation [2] above can be altered to produce a generalized Friis Transmission Formula. if the antennas are not polarization matched. The difference between the power received and the power transmitted is known as path loss. As a further consequence of Friss Transmission Equation. the energy transfer will be highest at lower frequencies. the path loss is very high. do you think the mobile phone operators are happy about the new LTE (4G) band. but the associated path loss will not enable quality reception. This is a fundamental result of the Friis Transmission Equation. so only point-to-point communication is possible. There may be more frequency spectrum available at higher frequencies. which includes polarization mismatch: . precisely for this reason. As a further corrollary of Friis Transmission Formula. and facing each other. The importance of this result from the Friis Transmission Formula cannot be overstated. the above received power could be multiplied by the Polarization Loss Factor (PLF) to properly account for this mismatch. Noting that this frequency is very high. Side Note: On the other hand. so the antenna designer's job got a little more complicated! Finally. Hence. and a verizon executive recently called this "high quality spectrum". suppose you are asked about 60 GHz antennas.

rather the temperature depends on its gain pattern and the thermal environment that it is placed in. For an antenna with a radiation pattern given by defined as: . we'll introduce a temperature distribution . an isotropic antenna would have a noise temperature that is the average of all temperatures around the antenna. To define the environment.Antenna Temperature Previous:Friis Transmission Equation Antenna Basics Antennas (Home) Antenna Temperature ( ) is a parameter that describes how much noise an antenna produces in a given environment.this is the temperature in every direction away from the antenna in spherical coordinates. an antenna does not have an intrinsic "antenna temperature" associated with it. for a perfectly directional antenna (with a pencil beam). the antenna temperature will only depend on the temperature in which the antenna is "looking". This temperature distribution will be written as . the value of the temperature pattern in the direction of the Earth's ground is the physical temperature of the Earth's ground. an antenna's temperature will vary depending on whether it is directional and pointed into space or staring into the sun. the night sky is roughly 4 Kelvin. For instance. Antenna temperature is also sometimes referred to as Antenna Noise Temperature. Moreover. Hence. The noise power received from an antenna at temperature can be expressed in terms of the bandwidth (B) the antenna (and its receiver) are operating over: . the noise temperature is mathematically This states that the temperature surrounding the antenna is integrated over the entire sphere. This temperature is not the physical temperature of the antenna. Hence. and weighted by the antenna's radiation pattern.

this is a quantity of nature (like mass or weight or density) that every object possesses.we don't have a net charge that is positive or negative. This parameter is written as G/T. This temperature can be used in the above equation to find the total noise power of the system. Hence.38 * 10^-23 [Joules/Kelvin = J/K]). and has units of dB/Kelvin [dB/K]. that all charged particles will have an associated electric field with them. These concepts begin to illustrate how antenna engineers must understand receivers and the associated electronics. You and I are most likely electrically neutral . because the resulting systems very much depend on each other. let's start with some basic physics. the electrons travel around a circuit . Some materials (like metals) that are very electrically conductive have loosely bound electrons. Let us get back to charge for a moment. The receiver also has a temperature associated with it ( ). when a voltage is applied across a metal. A parameter often encountered in specification sheets for antennas that operate in certain environments is the ratio of gain of the antenna divided by the antenna temperature (or system temperature if a receiver is specified). The universe has decided. First. for unknown reasons. There is electric charge . Suppose that for some reason. and the total system temperature (antenna plus receiver) has a combined temperature given by . there is a negatively charged particle sitting somewhere in space. There exists in every atom in the universe particles that contain positive and negative charge (protons and electrons. respectively). Why do Antennas Radiate? Previous: Antenna Temperature Antenna Fundamentals Antennas (Home) Obtaining an intuitive idea for why antennas radiate is helpful in understanding the fundamentals of antennas. On this page.In the above. I'll attempt to give a low-key explanation with no regard to mathematics on how and why antennas radiate electromagnetic fields.this flow of electrons is electric current (measured in Amps). This is illustrated in Figure 1. K is Boltzmann's constant (1. .

everywhere in space. the E-field lines point away from the charge. . So this negatively charged particle produces an electric field around it. suppose someone came up and punched the charge with their fist. everywhere in space. and this disturbance propagates away from the charge.000 meters/second. Now. The field strength dies off (becomes smaller in magnitude) as you move away from the charge. How would the universe react in this situation? The universe has also decided (again. This means the electric fields around the charge will be disturbed. Further.c0 = 300. If the charge is positive. This is illustrated in Figure 2.000. for the fun of it. The charge would accelerate and travel away at a constant velocity.Figure 1. the magnitude of the E-field depends on how much charge has a magnitude (how strong the field strength is) and a direction (which direction does the field point). for no apparent reason) that disturbances due to moving (or accelerating) charges will propagate away from the charge at the speed of light . The Electric Field is a vector quantity . A negative charge has an associated Electric Field with it.

Once the charge is accelerated.if all accelerating electric charges radiate.the fields change because charges are accelerated. However. The fields always try to align themselves as in Figure 1 around charges. Remember. then the wires that connect my computer to the wall should be antennas. the fields are still undisturbed and have the same magnitude and direction as they would if the charge had not moved. In Figure 2. In the white region (outermost). Now. the fields are changing . correct? The charges on them are oscillating at 60 Hertz as the current travels so this should yield radiation. If we can produce a moving set of charges (this is simply electric current). the fields want to surround the charge exactly as they did in Figure 1. The E-fields when the charge is accelerated. Hence. the fields close to the charge have readapted themselves and now line up as they do in Figure 1. you may have some questions. the fields need to re-align themselves. First . then we will have radiation.Figure 2. if a point is very far away from the charge.from their old magnitude and direction to their new magnitude and direction. In the pink region. correct? . In the light blue (inner) region. we have 3 regions. the fields can only respond to events at the speed of light. This is illustrated in Figure 2. we have arrived at the fundamental reason for radiation . it will take time for the disturbance (or change in electric fields) to propagate to the point. Hence.

and that the currents that cause radiation add up in-phase (that is. Your wires do act as antennas. And due to Maxwell's Equations. it is not so simple to do this.Answer: Yes. The subject of antenna theory is concerned with transferring power from your receiver (the energy is contained in voltages and currents) into electromagnetic radiation (where the energy is contained in the E. the paper clip will work at certain frequencies as an antenna. you will have to know much more about antennas before you can say when and it may work in a given situation. The impedance will depend on what frequency you are operating at.e. However. . changing electric fields give rise to changing magnetic fields. However. is that the wires that carry power to your computer are a transmission line they carry current to your computer (which travels to one of your battery's terminals and out the other terminal) and then they carry the current away from your computer (all current travels in a circuit or loop). whether or not you could get any current flowing on the paper clip at all). However. The impedance of the paper clip will control how much power your receiver or transmitter could deliver to the paper clip (i. Another question that will arise is . they are very poor antennas. This requires the impedance of your antenna to be roughly matched to your receiver. The reason (among other things). Hence.if its so simple. and hence we have electromagnetic radiation. and you can find descriptions about them on the antenna list page. they don't cancel each other out as they would in a transmission line). A multitude of antenna types produce ways of achieving this. Hence. then everything could be an antenna. In summary. hook it up to my receiver and then forget all about antenna theory? Answer: A paper clip could definitely act as an antenna if you get current flowing on the antenna. the radiation from one wire is cancelled by the current flowing in the adjacent wire (that is travelling the opposite direction). all radiation is caused by accelerating charges which produce changing electric fields. Why don't I just use a metal paper clip as an antenna.and H-fields) travelling away from the antenna.

Antenna Types
Antenna Tutorial (Home) In this section, we'll introduce the fundamental antenna types. Almost every antenna in the world can be understood as some combination or derivative of the antennas listed on this page. We'll start with the simplest of all antennas, the short-dipole antenna (which is basically a short wire), and work our way through to the more complicated antennas.

Wire Antennas
Short Dipole Antenna Dipole Antenna Half-Wave Dipole Broadband Dipoles Monopole Antenna Folded Dipole Antenna Small Loop Antenna

Microstrip Antennas
Rectangular Microstrip (Patch) Antennas Planar Inverted-F Antennas (PIFA)

Reflector Antennas
Corner Reflector Parabolic Reflector (Dish Antenna)

Travelling Wave Antennas
Helical Antenna Yagi-Uda Antenna

Aperture Antennas
Slot Antenna

Cavity-Backed Slot Antenna Inverted-F Antenna Slotted Waveguide Antenna Horn Antenna

The Short Dipole Antenna
Antennas List Antenna Theory

The short dipole antenna is the simplest of all antennas. It is simply an open-circuited wire, fed at its center as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Short dipole antenna of length L. The words "short" or "small" in antenna engineering always imply "relative to a wavelength". So the absolute size of the above dipole antenna does not matter, only the size of the wire relative to the wavelength of the frequency of operation. Typically, a dipole is short if its length is less than a tenth of a wavelength:

If the short dipole antenna is oriented along the z-axis with the center of the dipole at z=0, then the

current distribution on a thin, short dipole is given by:

The current distribution is plotted in Figure 2. Note that this is the amplitude of the current distribution; it is oscillating in time sinusoidally at frequency f.

Figure 2. Current distribution along a short dipole antenna. The fields radiated from the short dipole antenna in the far field are given by:

The above equations can be broken down and understood somewhat intuitively. First, note that in the far-field, only the and fields are nonzero. Further, these fields are orthogonal and in-phase. Further, the fields are perpendicular to the direction of propagation, which is always in the direction (away from the antenna). Also, the ratio of the E-field to the H-field is given by

(the intrinsic impedance of free space). This indicates that in the far-field region the fields are

This is true as long as increasing the length does not cause the short dipole assumption to become invalid. Finally. this antenna would be described as vertically polarized. Since the fields of the short dipole antenna are only a function of the polar angle.5 (1. When evaluated in the x-y plane. the fields are proportional to L. Theoretically. which should make sense (more describes the phase-variation of the wave versus distance. In the next section further properties of the short dipole will be discussed. Recall that the impedance Z is made up of three components. the radiation resistance. For a vertical antenna oriented along the z-axis. the fields die off as 1/r. there is no radiation along the z-axis far from the antenna. the spatial variation of the fields as a function of direction from the antenna are given by . which is very low for realizable (physical or non-theoretical) antennas. they have no azimuthal variation and hence this antenna is characterized as omnidirectional. Impedance and other Properties of the Short Dipole Antenna The directivity of the center-fed short dipole antenna depends only on the component of the fields. indicated a longer dipole will radiate more power.76 dB). the radiation will be maximum in the x-y plane. Also. Second. the . The Half-Power Beamwidth is 90 degrees. more power). the fields are proportional to the current amplitude current.propagating like a plane-wave. which depends on the radius a of the dipole. The polarization of this antenna is linear. Directivity. We now turn to the input impedance of the short dipole. Note also that the fields are oscillating in time at a frequency f in addition to the above spatial variation. which indicates the power falls of as Third. The exponential term: . It can be calculated to be 1. because the E-field would be vertically oriented (along the zaxis).

The radiation resistance is calculated to be 0.05 . . The loss resistance is found to be 4. However.49 Ohms. which is approximatley negligible when compared to the radiation resistance. the reactance is 1695 Ohms.49 + j1695. and consequently this antenna can be very inefficient. and the reactive (imaginary) component which represents stored energy in the fields: The radiation resistance can be calculated to be: The resistance representing loss due to the finite-conductivity of the antenna is given by: In the above equation represents the conductivity of the dipole (usually very high. Suppose further that this antenna is to operate at f=3 MHz. and that the metal is copper. Even if the reactance could be properly cancelled out.loss resistance. very little power would be delivered from a 50 Ohm source to a 0. so that the input resistance is Z=0. Hence.600. For short dipole antennas that are smaller fractions of a wavelength.001 and the length is 0.83 mOhms (milli-Ohms). The reactance or imaginary part of the impedance of a dipole is roughly equal to: As an example. assume that the radius is 0.000 S/m. this antenna would be very difficult to have proper impedance matching.49 Ohm load. if made of metal). the radiation resistance becomes smaller than the loss resistance. The frequency fcome into the above equation because of the skin effect. so that the conductivity is 59.

the dipole antenna with a very thin radius is considered. Hence. . Note that the input impedance is specified as Z=R + jX. Before examining the fields radiated by a dipole antenna. The Dipole Antenna In this section. Current distributions on finite-length dipole antennas. these antennas are typically used in narrowband applications. The current distributions (left) and full-wavelength (right) dipole antennas are given in Figure 1. where R is the re reactance.The bandwidth for short dipoles is difficult to define. Note that the peak value of t along the dipole unless the length is greater than half a wavelength. consider the input impedance of a dipole a plotted in Figure 2 below. Figure 1. the current flows in th amplitude which closely follows the following function: Note that this current is also oscillating in time sinusoidally at frequency f. The input impedance varies wildly with frequency because of the reactance component of the input impedance. The dipole antenna is simi except it is not required to be small compared to the wavelength (at the frequency the antenna is o For a dipole antenna of length L oriented along the z-axis and centered at z=0.

At slightly less than 0. and the antenna is said to be resonant. Input impedance as a function of the length (L) of a dipole anten Note that for very small dipole antennas. As the dipole gets lar increases. Radiation Patterns for Dipole Antennas The far-fields from a dipole antenna of length L are given by: . along with the reactance. the input impedance becomes infini impedance can be understood by studying high frequency transmission line theory. we'll consider the radiation pattern of dipole antennas. the antenna has zero imaginary comp If the dipole antenna's length becomes close to one wavelength.5 (reactance X=0). which means the imped negative reactance value (and a relatively small real impedance or resistance). As a simpler exp wavelength dipole shown in Figure 1. Since the current at the terminals is zero. Consequently.Figure 2. infinite impedance occurs whenever the dipole antenna is an integer mult In the next section. If a voltage is applied to the terminals on the right antenna in distribution will be as shown. the input impedance (given b be infinite. the input impedance is capacitive.

5-wavelength dipole pattern is also plotted in Figure 3. Normalized radiation patterns for dipole antennas of specified len The full-wavelength dipole antenna is more directional than the shorter quarter-wavelength dipole a result in antenna theory: it takes a larger antenna in general to increase directivity. The dipole antenna is symmetric when viewed azimuthally. Note that this pattern is maximum at a degrees.The normalized radiation patterns for dipole antennas of various lengths are shown in Figure 3. Figure 3. as a result the radiation pattern is not a f . However. the res The 1.

the E-field is in the -y direction. Further. the E-fiel component and consequently the fields are linearly polarized. Figure 4.5-wavelength dipole antenna is significantly different. Normalized 3d radiation pattern for the 1-wavelength dipole anten The 3D radiation pattern for the 1. and is show .angle . the dipole antenna is an example of an omnidirectional antenna. Hence. This pattern is similar to t and half-wave dipole antenna. The 3D pattern for the 1-wavelength dipole antenna is shown in Figure 4. When viewed in the x-y plane (for a d axis). and consequently the dipole antenna is vertically polarized.

5-wavelength dipole ante The (peak) directivity of the dipole antenna varies as shown in Figure 6. .Figure 5. Normalized 3d radiation pattern for the 1.

To make it crystal clear. Hence.Figure 6. Note that the "half-wave" term means that the length of this dipole antenna is equal to a half frequency of operation. a simple half-wavelength wire fed at the center . Figure 6 indicates that up until approximately L=1.25 the directivity increases with length. Dipole Antenna directivity as a function of dipole length.5 meters. Half-Wave Dipole Antennas The half-wave dipole antenna is just a special case of the dipole antenna. but its important enough section. Howe directivity has an upward trend but is no longer monotonic. the half-wavelength dipole antenna's The half-wave dipole antenna is as you may expect. what size should the half-waveleng One wavelength at 600 MHz is = c / f = 0. if the antenna is to radiate at 600 MHz.

with no reactive component. dipoles are often made with fatter or tends to increase the bandwidth of the antenna. the antenna becomes Zin = 70 Ohms.Figure 1.48 .5 Ohms. In practice. The input impedance of the half-wavelength dipole antenna is given by Zin = 73 + j42. Electric Current on a half-wave dipole antenna. the resonant length reduces sli thickness of the dipole. but will often be close to 0. If the dipole's length is reduced to 0. The HPBW is 78 degrees. . When this is the case. This is a desirable property.15 dB). The above length is valid if the dipole is very thin. The dipole antenna are given by: The directivity of a half-wave dipole antenna is 1.64 (2.47 . In viewing the impedance as a function of the dipole length in the section on dipole antennas. it can the length slightly the antenna can become resonant. and hen The radiation pattern remains virtually the same.

For a quarter-wave monopole (L=0. The directivity of a monopole antenna is directly related to that of a dipole antenna. which are known and presented in the dipole section.5 + j21. the impedance of the monopole antenna is halved. Figure 1. the impedance is half of that of a half-wave dipole. Since Zin = V/I. so Zin = 36. This can be understood since only half the voltage is required to drive a monopole antenna to the same current as a dipole (think of a dipole as having +V/2 and -V/2 applied to its ends.Monopole above a PEC (a). Using image theory.A monopole antenna is one half of a dipole antenna.25 Ohms. The radiation pattern of monopole antennas above a ground plane are also known from the dipole result. whereas a monopole antenna only needs to apply +V/2 between the monopole antenna and the ground to drive the same current). That is. The only change that needs to be noted is that the impedance of a monopole antenna is one half of that of a full dipole antenna. and the equivalent source in free space (b). then the directivity of a monopole antenna of length L will have a directivity of D1+3 [decibels]. the fields above the ground plane can be found by using the equivalent source (antenna) in free space as shown in Figure 1(b). The fields above the ground plane in Figure 1(a) are identical to the fields in Figure 1(b). the directivity (in linear units) of a monopole antenna is twice the directivity of a dipole antenna of twice the length. The case of a monopole antenna of length L mounted above an infinite ground plane is shown in Figure 1(a). The reason for this is simply . If the directivity of a dipole of length 2L has a directivity of D1 [decibels]. almost always mounted above some sort of ground plane. The monopole antenna fields below the ground plane in Figure 1(a) are zero.25* ). This is simply a dipole antenna of twice the length.

The impedance of a monopole antenna is minimally affected by a finite-sized ground plane for ground planes of at least a few wavelengths in size around the monopole. particularly the radiation pattern. the radiation pattern for the monopole antenna is strongly affected by a finite sized ground plane. Monopole antennas are half the size of their dipole counterparts. with an infinite ground plane approximated by a small metal plate below the antenna. However. The resulting radiation pattern radiates in a "skewed" direction. and hence are attractive when a smaller antenna is needed. hence. An example of the radiation pattern for a quarterwavelength monopole antenna (oriented in the +z-direction) on a ground plane with a diameter of 3 wavelengths is shown in the following Figure: Note that the resulting radiation pattern for this monopole antenna is still omnidirectional. the antenna is effectively twice as "directive".because no radiation occurs below the ground plane. monopole antennas are used on finite-sized ground planes. Antennas on older cell phones were typically monopole antennas. Effects of a Finite Size Ground Plane on the Monopole Antenna In practice. This affects the properties of the monopole antennas. However. the direction of peak-radiation has changed from the x-y . away from the horizontal plane.

Typically the height h is much smaller than the wavelength of operation. the lower this direction of maximum radiation. the radiation pattern approaches a maximum in the x-y plane. microstrip transmission line and ground plane are made of high conductivity metal (typically copper).plane to an angle elevated from that plane.05 of a wavelength. but not much smaller than 0. as the ground plane approaches infinite size. In general. . Consider the microstrip antenna shown in Figure 1. The patch antenna. Microstrip antennas are becoming very widespread within the mobile phone market. fed by a microstrip transmission line. Patch antennas are low cost. and sitting on top of a substrate (some dielectric circuit board) of thickness h with permittivity . Antennas List Rectangular Microstrip Antenna Introduction to Patch Antennas Microstrip or patch antennas are becoming increasingly useful because they can be printed directly onto a circuit board. width W. The patch is of length L. the large the ground plane is. have a low profile and are easily fabricated. The thickness of the ground plane or of the microstrip is not critically important.

The frequency of operation of the patch antenna of Figure 1 is determined by the length L. The center frequency will be approximately given by: .(a) Top View of Patch Antenna (b) Side View of Microstrip Antenna Figure 1.Geometry of Microstrip (Patch) Antenna.

to decrease the input impedance to 50 Ohms often requires a very wide patch antenna. . The width further controls the radiation pattern. By increasing the width. The normalized radiation pattern is approximately given by: In the above.5 . given by fields. The width W of the microstrip antenna controls the input impedance. the impedance can be reduced. Larger widths also can increase the bandwidth. However. k is the free-space wavenumber. For a square patch antenna fed in the manner above. The magnitude of the The fields of the microstrip antenna are plotted in Figure 2 for W=L=0. which takes up a lot of valuable space. the input impedance will be on the order of 300 Ohms.The above equation says that the microstrip antenna should have a length equal to one half of a wavelength within the dielectric (substrate) medium. given by: .

Assume the substrate is air (or styrofoam.5 meters. The height h is taken to be 3 cm. with a permittivity equal to 1). and that L=W=1. Fringing Fields for Microstrip Antennas Consider a square patch antenna fed at the end as before in Figure 1a. The directivity of patch antennas is approximately 5-7 dB. so that the patch is to resonate at 100 MHz. The fields are linearly polarized. and in the horizontal direction when viewing the microstrip antenna as in Figure 1a (we'll see why in the next section). Next we'll consider more aspects involved in Patch (Microstrip) antennas.Figure 2. .Normalized Radiation Pattern for Microstrip (Patch) Antenna.

the bandwidth of the patch antenna is very small. when designing a patch antenna it is typically trimmed by 2-4% to achieve resonance at the desired frequency. the current is maximum at the center of the half-wave patch and (theoretically) zero at the beginning of the patch. When matched to a 200 Ohm load. Figure 3. the microstrip antenna was designed to operate at 100 MHz.Magnitude of S11 versus Frequency for Square Patch Antenna. but it is resonant at approximately 96 MHz. Some noteworthy observations are apparent from Figure 3. First. shown in Figure 4. Consider the side view of a patch antenna. This low current value at the feed explains in part why the impedance is high when fed at the end (we'll address this again later). Note that since the current at the end of the patch is zero (open circuit end). The fringing fields around the antenna can help explain why the microstrip antenna radiates. the magnitude of S11 is shown in Figure 3. . This shift is due to fringing fields around the antenna.Note that microstrips are usually made for higher frequencies. so that they are much smaller in practice. Rectangular patch antennas are notoriously narrowband. Hence. which makes the patch seem longer. the bandwidth of rectangular microstrip antennas are typically 3%. Secondly.

the fringing E-fields on the edge of the microstrip antenna add up in phase and produce the radiation of the microstrip antenna. so that the fields are more tightly contained (less fringing). an equal current but with opposite direction is on the ground plane. however. the smaller is. when making a microstrip transmission line (where no power is to be radiated). resulting in less radiation. At the start of the patch antenna (a half-wavelength away). they extend farther away from the patch. at the end of the patch the voltage is at a maximum (say +V volts). The patch antenna is therefore a "voltage radiator". When this occurs. hence the radiation arises due to the voltage and not the current. which roughly displays the fringing of the fields around the edges. Note that the fringing fields near the surface of the patch antenna are both in the +y direction. Hence. the voltage must be at minimum (-V Volts). which radiate because the currents add up in phase and are therefore "current radiators". which are due to the advantageous voltage distribution. The microstrip antenna's radiation arises from the fringing fields. The current adds up in phase on the patch antenna as well. the voltage and current are out of phase. This paragraph is critical to understanding the patch antenna. the more "bowed" the fringing fields become. the voltage reflection coefficient will be -1 (see the transmission line tutorial for more information). Figure 4. This also explains why the microstrip antenna radiates but the microstrip transmission line does not. It is the fringing fields that are responsible for the radiation. As a side note. Therefore. a high value of is desired. This is one of the . using a smaller permittivity for the substrate yields better radiation. as opposed to the wire antennas.Since the patch antenna can be viewed as an open circuited transmission line.Side view of patch antenna with E-fields shown underneath. Hence. the fields underneath the patch will resemble that of Figure 4. In contrast. Hence. which cancels the radiation.

the input impedance (Z=V/I) could be reduced if the patch was fed closer to the center. Since this typically yields a high input impedance. the patch antenna was fed at the end as shown here. moving in a distance R from the end will increase the current by cos(pi*R/L) . Since the current is low at the ends of a half-wave patch and increases in magnitude toward the center. we'll look at alternative methods of feeding the microstrip antenna (connecting the antenna to the receiver or transmitter). we would like to modify the feed. Patch Antenna with an Inset Feed. Inset Feed Previously.this is just noting that the wavelength is 2*L. . and so the phase difference is 2*pi*R/(2*L) = pi*R/L. One method of doing this is by using an inset feed (a distance R from the end) as shown in Figure 1. Figure in patch antenna design. to circumvent this issue. Next. There have been research papers written were distinct dielectrics (different permittivities) are used under the patch antenna and transmission line sections. Since the current has a sinusoidal distribution.

Figure 2. The goal is to match the input impedance (Zin) to the transmission line (Z0). using Z=V/I. Fed with a Quarter-Wavelength Transmission Line The microstrip antenna can also be matched to a transmission line of characteristic impedance Z0 by using a quarter-wavelength transmission line of characteristic impedance Z1 as shown in Figure 2. then cos(pi*R/L) = cos(pi/4). a (1/8)-wavelength inset would decrease the input impedance by 50%. the input impedance can be decreased. This method can be used to tune the input impedance to the desired value. then the input impedance viewed from the beginning of the quarter-wavelength line becomes . the input impedance scales as: In the above equation. If the impedance of the antenna is ZA. Hence. by feeding the patch antenna as shown. so that [cos(pi/4)]^2 = 1/2. Hence. if R=L/4. As an example. Zin(0) is the input impedance if the patch was fed at the end. Patch antenna with a quarter-wavelength matching section. Hence.The voltage also decreases in magnitude by the same amount that the current increases.

Coaxial Cable or Probe Feed Microstrip antennas can also be fed from underneath via a probe as shown in Figure 3. Coupled (Indirect) Feeds The feeds above can be altered such that they do not directly touch the antenna. The position of the feed can be altered as before (in the same way as the inset feed. so that Zin=Z0 and the antenna is impedance matched. Coaxial cable feed of patch antenna. The outer conductor of the coaxial cable is connected to the ground plane. Figure 3. The coaxial feed introduces an inductance into the feed that may need to be taken into account if the height h gets large (an appreciable fraction of a wavelength). the lower the characteristic impedance (Z0) is for that section of line.This input impedance Zin can be altered by selection of the Z1. the probe will also radiate. For instance. above) to control the input impedance. The parameter Z1 can be altered by changing the width of the quarter-wavelength strip. the probe feed in Figure 3 can be trimmed such that it does not extend all the . and the center conductor is extended up to the patch antenna. In addition. which can lead to radiation in undesirable directions. The wider the strip is.

The advantage of the coupled feed is that it adds an extra degree of freedom to the design. The inset feed can also be stopped just before the patch antenna.way up to the antenna. as shown in Figure 4. the feed circuitry (transmission line) is shielded from the antenna by a conducting plane with a hole (aperture) to transmit energy to the antenna. In this technique. Figure 4. Aperture Feeds Another method of feeding microstrip antennas is the aperture feed. Coupled (indirect) inset feed. as shown in Figure 5. The gap introduces a capacitance into the feed that can cancel out the inductance added by the probe feed. .

wide slots can have a FBW on the order of 75%. Aperture coupled feed.5 wavelengths long (at the center frequency of operation). the expense of a larger width is a higher degree of cross-polarization. The disadvantage of this method is increased difficulty in fabrication. Slotted Waveguide Antennas Slotted antenna arrays used with waveguides are a popular antenna in navigation. The slots on the waveguide will assumed to have a narrow width. They are simple to fabricate. These antennas are often used in aircraft applications because they can be made to conform to the surface on which they are mounted. yielding better radiation. The upper substrate can be made with a lower permittivity to produce loosely bound fringing fields.1 of a wavelength) and 0. The Fractional Bandwidth for thin slots can be as low as 3-5%. radar and other high-frequency systems. The lower substrate can be independently made with a high value of permittivity for tightly coupled fields that don't produce spurious radiation. Increasing the width increases the Bandwidth (recall that a fatter antenna often has an increased bandwidth). An example of a slotted waveguide array is shown in Figure 1 (dimensions given by length a and width b) . have low-loss (high efficiency) and radiate linear polarization with low cross-polarization. The slots are typically thin (less than 0.Figure 5.

the shape of the waveguide and frequency of operation will play a major role. shape and orientation of the slots will determine how (or if) they radiate. For a primer on waveguides.Figure 1. the waveguide is used as the transmission line to feed the elements. and I've never seen this done in practice.Basic geometry of a slotted waveguide antenna. The dominant TE10 mode will be assumed to exist within the waveguide. Using the geometry of Figure 1. In addition. As in the cavity-backed slot antenna. see here: waveguide primer. However. (especially for large arrays) this would be very difficult to construct. Instead. The position. each slot could be independently fed with a voltage source across the slot. the fields that exist within the waveguide are given by: . To understand what is going on. we'll need to understand the fields within the waveguide first.

f is the frequency of interest.In the above. is a constant Magnetic fields tangent to a conductor produce electric currents on the surface. The resulting surface current density J [measured in Amps/meter] can be determined using the unit normal to the surface (n) as: On the top wall of the waveguide (where the slots are). the induced currents will be: Radiation occurs when the currents must "go around" the slots in order to continue on their desired direction. as shown in Figure 2. As an example.k is the wavenumber and that specifies how much power is added to the waveguide. . consider a narrow slot in the center of the waveguide.

because the slot is thin and the z-current would not need to travel around the slot. the x-directed current will not be zero and will need to travel around the slot. If the slots are displaced from the centerline as shown in Figure 1. In this case. As a result.i. . slots can not be placed in the center of the waveguide as shown in Figure 2. the amount of power that it radiates can be adjusted. Note that the distance from the edge will determine the magnitude of the current. the xcomponent of the current will be responsible for the radiation. no current and therefore no radiation. If the slot is oriented as shown in Figure 3. However. radiation will occur. Hence. the z-component of the current will not be disturbed. Waveguide with a thin slot centered about its width. If this slot is displaced away from the center line. at this location (x=a/2). As a result. the x-component of the current density is zero .Figure 2. This slot will then radiate. In this manner. a phased array can be designed with varying excitation to each element.e. the slot will disturb the z-component of the current density. the power that the slot radiates can be altered by moving the slots closer or farther from the edge. Hence.

Note that the z-component of the current is still responsible for radiation in this case. If the slot is rotated at an angle about the centerline as shown in Figure 4. . The x-component is disturbed. however the currents will have opposite magnitudes on either side of the centerline and will thus tend to cancel out the radiation.Figure 3. The power it radiates will be a function of the angle (phi) that it is rotated specifically given by .Horizontal slot in a waveguide. Rotated slot antenna in a waveguide. Figure 4. it will radiate.

they will be given in terms of the guidewavelength. To begin to analyze the antenna of Figure 1. The far end is usually shorted (enclosed in metal). and the slot elements are spaced a distance L from each other. The last slot is a distance d from the end (which is short-circuited. lets view the circuit model. The waveguide may be excited by a short dipole (as seen on the cavity-backed slot antenna) page. so a rough circuit model of Figure 1 is: Figure 2. The end of the waveguide is short circuited. which is the wavelength within the waveguide. as seen in Figure 2).Circuit model of slotted waveguide antenna. The waveguide itself acts as a transmission line. or by another waveguide. and the slots in the waveguide can be viewed as parallel (shunt) admittances. The guide wavelength ( . The front end (the open face at the y=0 in the x-z plane) is where the antenna is fed. Before we discuss choosing the sizes.Geometry of the most common slotted waveguide antenna.The most common slotted waveguide resembles that shown in Figure 1: Figure 1.

then all of the slots can be viewed as being in parallel.Circuit model of slotted waveguide using quarter-wavelength transformation. Hence. the guide wavelength is given by: The distance between the last slot and the end d is often chosen to be a quarterwavelength. The waveguide is designed to operate at 10 GHz. It is fed by a coaxial feed at the bottom as shown in Figure 4. the input admittance and input impedance for an N element slotted array can be quickly calculated: The input impedance of the waveguide is a function of the slot impedance. Figure 2 then reduces to: Figure 3. . If the waveguide slot antenna is designed in this manner. a sample measurement of S11 as a function of frequency will be shown. If the parameter L is chosen to be a half-wavelength. L is designed to be about a halfwavelength for this reason. then the input impedance of Z Ohms viewed a half-wavelength away is Z Ohms. Hence. there will be degradation in the performance of the antenna.) is a function of the width of the waveguide (a) and the free space wavelength. To give an idea of the frequency characteristics of a slotted waveguide. For the dominant TE01 mode. Note that the above design parameters are only valid at a single frequency. Transmission line theory states that the impedance of a short circuit a quarter-wavelength down a transmission line is an open circuit. As the frequency departs from where the waveguide was designed to work.

The resulting S-parameter graph is shown in the following figure.Figure 4. Slotted waveguide antenna fed by a coaxial feed. .

Below 6.Note that the antenna has a very large drop in S11 around 10 GHz.5 GHz. The 3D radiation pattern for the slotted waveguide is shown in the following figure (it was calculated using a numerical electromagnetics package called FEKO). That gain is approximately 17 dB.5 GHz. This indicates that most of the power is radiated away at this frequency. Note that there is also a resonance at about 6. giving a Fractional Bandwidth of 8%. The bandwidth of the antenna (if defined as where S11 is less than -6 dB) extends from about 9.7 GHz to 10.7 and 9. The S-parameter graph shown above gives a good idea of what the bandwidth and frequency characteristics of a slotted waveguide will resemble. .2 GHz. the waveguide is below the cutoff frequency and virtually no energy is radiated.

This problem can be circumvented by arranging slotted waveguides in parallel. a longer antenna (or longer array) produces a narrower beam. On the previous page on slotted waveguides.Note that in the x-z plane (or h-plane). The problem arises because the physical dimensions along the E-plane is much shorter than that along the H-plane (the slotted waveguide is long but thin). it was shown that for a single waveguide strip. . In general. the beamwidth is very narrow (2-5 degrees). the radiation pattern tends to have a very wide beamwidth in the E-plane and a relatively small beamwidth in the H-plane. Obtaining a more penciltype beam using slotted waveguides is discussed in the next section. the beamwidth is much larger. as shown in Figure 1. In the y-z plane (or e-plane).

by adding a phase delay to each waveguide.Array of slotted waveguides fed by a single source. allowing scanning simply by changing the frequency). the E-plane beamwidth can be greatly reduced. By stacking waveguides as shown in Figure 1. The phase delay can be added by varying line lengths (then distinct frequencies will produce distinct phase delays.Figure 1. These are typically narrowband (a small deviation away from the design frequency often change the impedance of the individual slots. As an example. consider Boeing's wedgetail: . In addition. the array of waveguides can be steered in the E-plane (see phased arrays basics). Antenna arrays made up of hundreds or even thousand elements are often slotted waveguides similar to those described above. and the many slots add up producing a highly reactive impedance associated with the waveguide away from the resonant frequency).

25 Max Power (1 uS Pulse) [MW] 1.While I don't know for certain. I would guess that the walls of the odd structure on top of the above airplane contain a large slotted waveguide array.000 20.05 0. The max power is a function of the altitude. I will present a brief table from Gilden and Gould's Handbook on High Power Capabilities of Waveguide Systems. Power Handling capabilities of Slotted Waveguides Slotted waveguides are often used because they are capable of transmitting high power levels. Note that the power handling capabilities of a waveguide decrease with altitude (given in feet). The maximum power is shown in Table I.000 Max Power (CW) [MW] 0. and will be further divided as CW or "continuous wave" and a 1 microsecond pulse.95 0.30 . Power versus altitude for a typical X-band (10 GHz) waveguide. note that the power capabilities increases as the frequency decreases and vice-versa. Table I.62 0. The results are given for a typical X-band (10 GHz) waveguide.55 0. To give an idea of what they are capable of (and introduce the practical constraint of power handling capabilities versus altitude). for scanning in the horizontal (azimuth) plane around the airplane. The pulse column gives the maximum power when the waveguide radiates a brief pulse and then shuts off. The CW column gives the maximum power handling capability of a slotted waveguide when the array is continuosly transmitting in MegaWatts [MW]. Altitude [ft] 0 10.

20 0.06 0.10 0.000 40.03 0.05 Note that the power decreases rapidly with altitude.000 50.000 0.15 0.30. . this is a necessary constraint to keep in mind in designing radars for aircraft.

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