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Micro-strip Patch Antenna Primer
J P Silver E-mail: john@rfic.co.uk

1 ABSTRACT
This paper discusses the theory and design of microstrip patch antennas. The pertinent design parameters are given together with their relevant equations to allow basic ‘hand’ calculations before simulation is attempted. Finally a worked example is given to highlight the design steps required and CAD simulations are also described.

position of feed Dual frequency use possible Solid-state devices easily integrated Feed lines and matching fabricated with antenna

Low power handling

Table 1 Advantages and disadvantages of patch antennas.

2 INTRODUCTION
Proposed by Deschamps in 1953, and the first patch antenna was fabricated in the early 1970’s. A microstrip patch consists of a radiating patch of any planar geometry (eg Circle, square, Ellipse, ring and rectangle) on one side of a dielectric material substrate backed by a ground plane on the other side. A typical patch antenna is shown in Figure 1.
Radiating Patch Dielectric Substrate

3 FEED ARRANGEMENTS
Figure 2 shows various ways to feed patch antennas, capacitive-coupling of the various design is popular.

4 RADIATION MECHANISM
The important characteristic of microstrip antennas is their inherent ability to radiate efficiently despite their low profile. The primary source of this radiation is the electric fringing fields between the edges of the conductor element and the ground-plane behind it. Lewis[1] first analysed this in the form of a transmission line discontinuity and he discovered that the Q (quality factor) of the dielectric cavity formed by two short circuit walls and four open circuit walls depended on several parameters. The parameters are dielectric constant (εr), height (h) of the substrate, the patch dimensions and the frequency. The results showed that at high frequency, radiation loss as opposed to conductive or dielectric loss is the main source of energy dissipation. The electric field patterns of a square patch antenna are shown in Figure 3.

Conducting Ground Plane

Figure 1 Basic features of a patch antenna

Generally, a substrate with a low dielectric constant (εr) is used (typically ~ 2.5) to reduce the fringing fields, but in loss critical applications, Alumina (εr =10) must be used. Table 1 highlights the advantages and disadvantages of patch antennas – the main disadvantage being the narrow bandwidth. Advantages Lightweight, low volume Easy to mount Low fabrication cost Aerodynamic (good for fitting on missiles and ships Linear and circular polarization easy to implement by Disadvantages Narrow bandwidth Loss Poor end-fire radiation characteristics Very limited maximum gain Poor isolation between feed and antenna

εr = 2. For a/b = 1.Sheet 2 of 10 ~λ/2 Gap Coupled Feed Non-radiating edge feed εr h λ/4 Quarter-wave Match Feed Patch Patch Inset Feed Dielectric Substrate (εr) Radiating Patch Feedline Feed L Coaxial Connector Probe Coupling Feed Substrates Aperture ~λ/2 W h Conducting Ground Plane Radiating Patch Ground Plane Aperture Coupling Feedline Figure 3 Rectangular microstrip patch antenna electric field patterns. . The radiation patterns for the TM mode are shown in Figure 4.8. These patterns are of particular interest since they provide maximum radiation on bore sight. Substrates The E field is considered to be constant along W and varies sinusoidally with L.5. EM Coupling Figure 2 Patch antenna feed arrangements The fringing fields at the two edges add in phase in the far field on ‘boresight’ (the vector normal to the plane of patch) and cancel along the broadside.32 and 9.

8 Er = 2. emphasis is placed on trying to maximize efficiency at the expense of gain or radiation pattern.W .32 The antenna efficiency is given by: η (% ) = 0 -10 -10 dB Pr x 100% Pd + Pc + Pr 0 Typically η can be between 80 to 90% for a patch antenna with a dielectric constant of 2.32 Q= Pr + Pd + Pc + Psw ⎛1⎞ 2π. The transmission line model is shown in Figure 5.f . and Psw = surface wave loss (very small) 0 -10 -10 dB 0 Eθ Er = 9. (1) Transmission Line Model The structure is considered as a transmission line along the line joining the radiating apertures loaded by impedances at it’s radiating edges. r ⎛1⎞ W . This energy stored is inversely proportional to the dielectric height h. the susceptance being due to the fringing field and the conductance due to the radiation loss.⎜ ⎟ r t ⎝h⎠ Where f = resonant frequency.3 at 10GHz. energy will be stored in the system.8 Er = 2. Pd = Dielectric Loss.Sheet 3 of 10 EΦ Er = 9. Losses in the antenna will allow energy to leak away and such an antenna will have a lower Q factor. t ⎝h⎠ Pr = energy lost through radiation. Losses reduce the Q factor.1) Q s Φ θ Figure 4 Radiation Patterns Where s = VSWR Looking at the radiation patterns it is clear that the efficiency of the patch antenna (ie the directivity) is poor. 5 LOSSES The antenna is a resonant circuit therefore. which results in an increased bandwidth and reduced efficiency. 6 MODELLING Two models commonly used for analyzing patch antennas are the Transmission Line model and the Cavity model. When designing these antennas.⎜ ⎟ = stored energy in the cavity. The radiating wall may be characterised by an equivalent admittance. Pc = Conductor Loss.W = 100(s . We can also describe the energy stored by the parameter Q (known as Quality Factor). The Q factor can be calculated from the following equation: . Typical Q factors are in the range 20-200 and the bandwidth is given by: B.

6).8).µ eff o o − 2∆l For a dielectric substrate of thickness h.h cosθ 2 2π (H .Fr. RT Duroid (εr = 2.j ∂Ez j ∂Ez .h cos φ ⎞ (E . and Hy = ω .9 x10 −12 C 2 /Nm 2 o µ = 4π. Ez = 0 at boundary walls Hx = .32) and Alumina (εr = 9.h ⎝ 2 ⎠ cos φ 2 (3) Slot Susceptance .264 ⎟ ⎠ ⎝h ⎞ ⎛W − 0.µ o o Where G W= c 2 ε +1 r jB G jB Figure 5 Transmission line model of a patch antenna (2) Cavity Model The region between the patch and the ground plane may be treated as a cavity. cos⎜ m. ⎟ 0 ≤ x ≤ a and 0 ≤ y ≤ b a⎠ ⎝ b⎠ ⎝ where n and m are postive integers ⎛ n 2 ⎞ ⎛ m2 ⎞ π ω= . ⎜ 2 ⎟+⎜ 2 ⎟ ε . the E and H plane radiation patterns may be plotted using the equations: ⎛ Ko.W ⎞ sin ⎜ cosθ ⎟ ⎝ 2 ⎠ sin θ F(θ ) = Ko.µ ∂y ω .µ .Plane) Ko = λ ⎛ Ko. Referring to Figure 6.Ez = 0 (Helmholtz equation) ∂x 2 ∂y 2 Applying boundary conditions.Fr. ε .h ⎞ sin ⎜ cos φ ⎟ 2 ⎝ ⎠ cos⎛ Ko. the length of the resonant element is then obtained from: L= c 2.412 h (ε (ε eff eff ⎞ ⎛W + 0.µ ⎜ b ⎟ ⎜ a ⎟ ⎝ ⎠ ⎝ ⎠ ~ λ/2 L ∆l ∆l Figure 6 Length of resonant element 7 DESIGN PROCEDURE (1) Element Width The first design step is to choose a suitable dielectric substrate of appropriate thickness. The modes in this cavity are given by: ∂ 2 Ez ∂ 2 Ez + + ε .µ ∂x Fr = Resonant Frequency ε = Relative dielectric constant r ε = 8.ω 2 .8 ⎟ ⎠ ⎝h x⎞ ⎛ y⎞ ⎛ Ez = Eo. ε . a practical width W is: ∆l = 0.x10−7 Tm/A o W is usually chosen to be in the range 1 <= L <= 2. .3)⎜ + 0.π . The three most common substrate materials used are rexolite (εr = 2. Element width is given by the following equation: (2) Radiation Pattern For two slots spaced by a distance L apart.Plane) F(φ ) = ⎜ ⎟ Ko. bounded by magnetic walls on the sides and electric walls on the top and bottom. ⎟ cos⎜ m. and for an effective radiator.258)⎜ + 0.Sheet 4 of 10 λ/2 2. an antenna operating frequency of Fr.π . ε .

z )⎥ 2 Yo Yo ⎣ ⎦ Where 1 Yo = Zo 1 ε ε β = 2π eff . 120 λo W ≥ λo Gr = (6) Probe position[1] The equations given for calculating the feed position are very complicated but can be simplified to give a starting point for computer simulation.z ) + sin 2 (βz ) − sin (2 β . λo 2 W2 λo W 2 (4) Input Admittance The input impedance or admittance should be accurately known so that a good match between the element and the feed can be designed. G = Rr λo Zo −1 W ≥ λo Rr = 120. Referring to Figure 7.⎜ ⎟ 90 ⎝ λo ⎠ 1 W . B = k. The distance of the feed entry point to the edge of the patch (z) is given by: ⎡ ⎤ G 2 + B2 B Yin(z) = 2G ⎢cos 2 (β . W ≤ λo Gr = 1 ⎛W⎞ .Zo For W ≤ λo Rr = 90.Sheet 5 of 10 The slot susceptance can be represented by a capacitance C: C= ∆l ε eff Where Zo is the characteristic impedance C.∆l eff . R IN = 1 Where Gr is that from section 5 2(Gr ± G12 ) W L Patch Feedline z Figure 7 Feed position on patch antenna (5) Radiation Resistance/Conductance .

Fr. (10) Directivity and Gain The directivity (D) of the antenna is defined as the ratio of the maximum power density in the main beam to the average radiated power density.00027 Fr . L.Gr ⎝L ⎠ (8) Antenna Efficiency The efficiency (which increases as h increases) may be expressed in terms of the equivalent resistances. (11) Beamwidth The half power beamwidth is equal to the angular width between directions where the gain decreases by 3dB.Qr 2 . The directivity is independent of the resonant frequency. L . cos ( x) = 1 − sin 2( x) ∴ 1 ⎡ ⎛π ⎞⎤ Rin( y = yo) = ⎢1 − sin 2⎜ L .W Er Where Jo is the Bessel function of the first kind of order zero.Gr ⎣ ⎝ ⎠⎦ Where yo = position of feed from patch edge L= Length of patch Gr = RadiatingConductanc e Note Calculatein radians (7) Q Factor and Losses The quality factor (Qr) associated with the radiation resistance is: η% = Rr * 100 Rt (9) Bandwidth The bandwidth may be increased by increasing the inductance of the radiators by cutting holes or slots in them or by adding reactive components to improve the match of the radiator to the feedline.L sin θ )sin 3 θdθ ⎢ cosθ ⎥ ⎢ ⎥ ⎢ ⎦ ⎣ Rc = 0. yo⎟ 2(Gr ± G12 ) L ⎠ ⎝ 1 ⎛π ⎞ cos2 ⎜ .Qr 2 (Fr in GHz) W 1 G12 = 120π 2 ∫ π 0 Rd = λo 30. or the radiated field reduces to ½ of the maximum value.D The gain increases with resonant frequency and h and decreases with increase in εr.tan∂ . and the total quality factor Qt is Qt = Qr. We find that Rin is given by: Rin( y = yo) = as Gr >> G12 Rin( y = yo) = 2 1 ⎛π ⎞ cos2 ⎜ . yo⎟ 2. yo⎟⎥ 2. (4.Rt Rr Where Rt = Rr + Rd + Rc Luckily G12 << Gr and so in most cases can be ignored.Sheet 6 of 10 However G12 is complicated and is given by: ⎡ ⎛ KoW ⎞⎤ ⎢ sin ⎜ 2 cosθ ⎟ ⎥ ⎝ ⎠ ⎥Jo(Ko.h.h ) ε eff ) The equivalent resistances for the conductor loss Rc and dielectric loss Rd are then: . The gain G is given by: G= η. The half power beamwidths in the H and E planes are given by: Qr = (C.

.Sheet 7 of 10 θ BH = 2.03 θ BE = cos −1 ⎜ ⎜ 3. element gain and directivity decrease. however. As beamwidth increases.W ⎞ ⎟ ⎟⎟ ⎜ 2⎜ 2 ⎠⎠ ⎝ ⎝ ⎞ ⎟ ⎟ ⎠ ⎛ 7.k 2 L2 + k 2 h 2 o o ⎝ ( ) Thus beamwidth can be increased by choosing a smaller element. cos −1 ⎛ ⎞ ⎜ ⎟ 1 ⎜ ⎟ ⎜ ⎛ 1 + k o . by selecting a substrate having a higher relative permittivity. For a given resonant frequency these dimensions may be changed. efficiency is unaffected. thus reducing W and L.

06 ⎛ ⎞ (1.175x10 −3 h ∆l = 1. Before we analyse the design using Agilent Momentum (part of ADS) we need to perform some hand calculations.9x10 .06 ⎞ + 0.1. The patch will be used as a feed for a ‘TV’ offset feed dish and therefore.185mm).412 h (ε (ε eff eff ⎛W ⎞ + 0.898 However L will be slightly shortened due to the end effect: ∆l = 0.264 ⎟ ⎝h ⎠ ⎛W ⎞ − 0.8 ⎟ ⎝h ⎠ ∆l = 0. The completed antenna will feed an LNA designed to work with a 50-ohm input impedance.Fr.858 + 0.3)⎜ + 0.412(1.412 h (1. The frequencies of 1691MHz and 1694. 1.898 (1) Patch Width (W) (3) Approximate position of probe/feedpoint (yo) The very approximate relationship between input resistance (Rin) and probe position (yo) is given by the following: W= 1 2.412(1.72) = 6. ε .175x10 ⎠ ∆l = 0. Design considerations: (2) Patch Length (L) c 3x108 L= = = 6.312) ∴ ∆l = 0. ε eff 2.258)⎜ + 0.002%.8 ⎟ −3 ⎝ 3.3 .264 ⎟ −3 ⎝ 3.µ o o 2 ε +1 r 1 2 2.43cm 2.9x10 −12 C 2 /Nm 2 o µ = 4 π.98cm Where Fr = Resonant Frequency ε = Relative dielectric constant r ε = 8.x10 −7 Tm/A o .Fr. we can optimize the design to produce as much gain as possible. so the feed design could be a quarter-wave transformer.691x10 .3.2 + 1 W= 2. Eeff ~ 1. insert feed or a probe coupling.72mm Therefore.5MHz which equates to a very narrow bandwidth of 0. For this design RT Duroid 5880 was used and we select the channel 1 frequency of 1691MHz.1. we require a patch that will have a wide beamwidth to provide optimum illumination of the dish.312).Sheet 8 of 10 8 EXAMPLE For this example we shall design a patch antenna for reception of Meteosat WEEFAX at 1691MHz Channel 1 and 1694.258)⎜ + 0.858 − 0. 8.5MHz for channel 2 .691x109.3)⎛ ⎜ 0.x10 9 −12 −7 W = 6. and therefore.4π.086cm We want a cheap design so we could design a patch using an air dielectric or use inexpensive PTFE RT Duroid.3 (RT Duroid 5880) and large h (RT Duroid 5880 is available with a maximum thickness of 3. modified L= 64. To achieve high gain we need to use a low dielectric constant (εr (air) =1 or εr=2.2(1.175x10 ⎠ 0.

691E 9 Rin ≈ ⎞ ⎟ ⎟ = 1.8 ⎠ ⎠ ⎝ Rin ≈ 50Ω These values were then simulated and optimized (for input match) using Momentum within Agilent ADS. 120 λo 1 ⎛W⎞ . draw the patch antenna on the upper conductor layer. (1) Layout Using the layout window.yo ⎟ ⎟ Note calculate in radians G1 2 ⎜ L ⎠⎟ ⎝ ⎝ ⎠ Assume yo = 21mm = ⎛ 1 ⎞⎞ ⎛ π . 90 ⎜ 3E 8 ⎜ ⎝ 1. Loss Tangent: 0. Select 50-ohms. Permittivity: 2.⎜ ⎟ 90 ⎝ λo ⎠ 2 2 = Substrate layer Name: RT5880 Thickness: 3.yo ⎟ G1 ⎝L ⎠ 1 1⎛ ⎞⎞ ⎛π ⎜1 − sin . W = 5.719E −3 ⎜ ⎝ 60. Add the lower conductor (ie the boundary of the patch PCB) and add a port to the point where the feed will be (on the upper conductor layer). W ≥ λo G1 = As W ≤ λo G1 = ⎛ ⎜ 1 ⎜ 6. 9 MOMENTUM ANALYSIS Now we have a basic design we can check it using an EM simulator and for this we will use ADS Momentum.7GHz.001. should appear as shown in Figure 8. The following steps are required to enter the layout of the patch antenna.2.21⎟ ⎟ ⎜1 − sin . (4) Mesh Select setup mesh and enter the highest simulation frequency used eg 1.719E -3 ⎟ ⎟ ⎠ 1 ⎛π ⎞ cos 2 ⎜ . the substrate details and the frequency of operation. (2) Substrate details Open the create/modify substrate dialogue box and under substrate layers enter the following data: For the layer between Freespace and ground enter Figure 8 Computed mesh and port.1.98E -2 G1 = . Internal port and select OK.89cm – optimized) .Sheet 9 of 10 For W ≤ λo G1 = 1 ⎛ W ⎞2 .175mm. (Patch size L = 5. You should see FreeSpace ------Strip Upper Conductor RT5880 //////GND//////// Finally.2⎜ .83cm. Then pre-compute mesh which. You should see FREESPACE RT5880 //////GND//////// Under Metallisation layers click on the dotted layer under freespace and select ‘strip’.⎜ ⎟ 90 ⎝ λo ⎠ 1 W .2⎜ ⎟ 2. precompute (3) Port definition Open the Port Properties Editor and select the port on the layout.

691MHz.65 and 1.83cm and 5. (6) Results The position of the test port was moved from the center of the patch antenna to the edge.7GHz. Figure 10 Predicted gain (dB) and efficiency for the patch antenna. Figure 9 Input return loss prediction Momentum can also produce the radiating fields in 2D and 3D views. Select update. [1] Antenna Theory. until a good input return loss was obtained as shown in Figure 9. Chapter 14. C. 10 REFERENCES .Sheet 10 of 10 (5) Frequencies Select simulation – S-parameters and add start and stop frequencies 1.89cm respectively. Wiley. 2nd edition (1997). by adjusting L and W to be 5. ISBN 0-471-59268-4. was optimized for 1. The center frequency. apply and finally simulate. The 2D view of gain and efficiency is shown in Figure 10.Balanis.