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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION, VOL. 52, NO. 6, JUNE 2004

Meshed Patch Antennas


Gisela Clasen and Richard Langley, Member, IEEE
AbstractConventional microstrip patch antennas are printed with continuous solid copper shapes and ground planes. The general properties of meshed patches are presented in this paper where both the patch itself and the ground plane are meshed. The gain, cross-polarization, bandwidth and radiation patterns are discussed for different combinations of patch and ground plane. The radiation patterns are not significantly affected by meshing the patch alone, but meshing the ground plane increases the back radiation. The gain can suffer by up to 3 dB or more when compared to a standard patch. Cross-polarization is improved providing that the correct mesh line geometry is chosen for the excitation mode. Meshing lowered the resonant frequency in some cases by up to 30% and also improves the bandwidth by a factor of up to 2.5 in some modes. Overall, the meshed patch offers a complex tradeoff between parameters but gives opportunities for improving the bandwidth and reducing the cross polarization and the antenna dimensions at the expense of the gain. Index TermsCommunication antennas, mesh antennas, mesh patch antennas, metal mesh antennas, microstrip patch antennas.

I. INTRODUCTION

EHICLES are becoming mobile electronic communication systems, part of a wider telematics network with applications at microwave and millimeter wave frequencies. Many low frequency antennas below 1 GHz are printed on glass screens in the motor industry to reduce costs, hide the antennas and protect them from vandalism. Microstrip patches are widely used as cheap, conformal antennas for a wide variety of higher frequency applications and so there is currently much interest in printing such antennas on, or within, the glass areas of vehicles for intelligent transport and telematics systems. References [1], [2] reported on the performance of patch antennas fixed directly to glass which formed a superstrate. Mounting antennas within the glass offers the prospect of reducing costs but presents production problems such as thermal distortion of the glass during processing and feeding the signal to the embedded antenna. In addition it is not possible to print a solid conductor area on glass if it exceeds a few millimeters across as the metal area reflects heat and distorts the glass during the shaping/lamination process. In that case the metal must be meshed. Rectangular printed patch antennas made from a conducting mesh have been reported previously [3], where the antennas were stated to have improved bandwidth but lower gain. In [4], we reported the performance of circular meshed patches printed on glass while [5] presented the results
Manuscript received June 1, 2001; revised May 16, 2003. This work was supported by Harada Industries Europe, Ltd., Birmingham, U.K. G. Clasen was with the Electronics Department, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NT, U.K. She is now with C. Plath GmbH, 20097 Hamburg, Germany. R. Langley is with the Electronics Department, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NT, U.K. (e-mail: r.j.langley@ukc.ac.uk). Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TAP.2004.830251

Fig. 1. Circular and square mesh patches with their solid equivalents above.

for a patch antenna printed into a glass laminate and fed by a surface mount connector on the inner side of the glass. It is not the intention for this paper to look solely at glass based applications but to present some interesting general properties of meshed antennas that are not reported in the literature. The paper discusses both square and circular antennas where the patch and ground plane were meshed in various combinations. The effects of the varying line widths and line density on gain, cross-polarization, resonant frequency and bandwidth are discussed. Meshes for higher order modes on circular mode. The study was largely patches concentrate on the experimental but simulations made using Hewlett Packards Momentum Software are included to help with a physical interpretation of the results. The antennas were fed using coaxial probes but coplanar feeds were presented in [5], and similar antenna properties are measured for microstrip line feeds whether directly or electromagnetically coupled. Gain and radiation pattern measurements were carried out in a conventional far field anechoic chamber. Fig. 1 shows the geometries of two types of meshed patches. In the first part of the paper we concentrate on the square patch but similar observations were made for circular mesh patches. Square mesh patches have an overall dimension of with square apart. holes of side spaced If is the number of holes in one direction then the amount of metal in the meshed patch compared to the solid patch is given and the number of lines per wavelength by by . The geometry of circular patch shown relates

0018-926X/04$20.00 2004 IEEE

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Fig. 3. Measured resonant frequency of mesh square patch as a percentage of metal content compared to a solid metal patch.

Fig. 4. Current distribution on meshed patch over solid ground plane. (a) Magnitude and (b) direction. Fig. 2. Effect of line width and line spacing on measured normalized gain and cross-polarization. (a) Line spacing (b) line width. gain change - - - - - - xpolar level.

to the mode where the mesh lines follow the current directions on the patch. The exact mesh is mode dependent [4] and it is important to follow the current patterns to avoid increased cross-polarization as discussed later. A different mesh higher order mode is also described. A refshape for the erence patch, a conventional solid metal patch and ground plane , was used in printed on RT Duroid substrate with all cases for comparing the measured parameters to provide a consistent benchmark. The mesh must be two dimensional, i.e. there must be two sets of crossing orthogonal lines for the patch to radiate. If only a single set of lines are printed current flow is restricted and the antenna does not function as a patch.

II. MESHED PATCH OVER SOLID GROUND PLANE A series of meshed patches were manufactured with different line widths and line densities to establish the basic properties of gain, cross-polarization and resonant frequency. The input impedance is higher for the meshed patch and so the feed point is closer to the center. The meshed patches were placed over solid ground planes at this stage. The first measurements examined the effects of changing the line width and the line spacing on gain and cross-polarization.

The measured results for five samples are plotted in Fig. 2, where it can be seen that the gain improves as the line width increases and the spacing decreases, i.e. as the area of metal increases over the patch. On the other hand thin, widely spaced lines have better cross-polarization. There is, therefore, a tradeoff between gain and cross-polarization for a given geometry. More work is needed to understand the effect of the meshing parameters on the bandwidth. In general the bandwidth remained at about 1% for this patch study but variations up to 0.3% were noted. The resonant frequency reduces as the percentage of metal decreases as shown in Fig. 3, e.g. a meshed patch with side 65 mm, 2.5 mm, and 0.7 mm resonates at 1.37 GHz (52% metal) while the same standard patch antenna unmeshed has a resonance at 1.48 GHz. Hence for a given patch size the resonant frequency goes down as the number of mesh lines is reduced resulting in a smaller antenna at a given frequency. The relationship was not linear as the frequency of resonance reduces more quickly when the metal percentage falls below 60% as seen in Fig. 3. The effects noted in Figs. 2 and 3 were investigated further using the simulation package Momentum. Fig. 4 shows the current distribution computed over the meshed patch in two forms, Fig. 4(a) shows the magnitude while Fig. 4(b) shows the vector. The feed point is clearly visible. Fig. 4(a) shows that current is distributed on each of the vertical lines of the mesh uniformly whereas for a conventional patch the current density is high only

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION, VOL. 52, NO. 6, JUNE 2004

Fig. 5. patch.

Meshed ground planes of two densities for

TM

mode on circular

at the edges of the patch. Note also the high current magnitudes at the edges of each mesh line in Fig. 4(a). These excited mesh lines are closely coupled and the resulting radiation pattern is similar to that measured for a standard patch. The loss in gain noted in Fig. 2 is mainly accounted for by the conductor losses due to the high currents at the edge of each mesh line. The current vector diagram in Fig. 4(b) shows that the currents flowing from the top to the bottom of the patch flow into the horizontal conductor lines as well at the junctions with the vertical lines. The consequence of this is that the current paths are longer and hence the meshed patch radiates at a lower frequency than a standard patch. Therefore thicker mesh lines give rise to a lower resonant frequency than thin ones. The cross-polarization was difficult to model accurately using the software. However from Fig. 4(b) we noted that for thick lines the current flows across the conductors and, just as for a thick dipole compared to a thin one, this increases the crosspolarization. This bears out our experiments where thin lines improved the cross-polarization and thick ones increased the levels. III. MESHED GROUND PLANES The ground planes used in this study were about 2.5 times the size of the patch, resulting in some radiation diffracted to the rear. An experimental study investigated meshing the ground plane in a similar way to that of the patches, thus creating a more optically transparent antenna. A theoretical study was more difficult due to excessive computation times and storage requirements needed for Momentum. The ground plane geometry opmode circular patch is shown in Fig. 5. A timized for a square mesh structure was used for the rectangular patches operating in the fundamental mode. It should be noted that using a standard patch over a meshed ground offered no significant benefits. A number of effects were observed when the ground plane was meshed and combined with a meshed patch. Meshing the ground plane improved the bandwidth which increased typically from 0.6% to 1.6% for 25% metalization while the resonant frequency reduced further to 1.21 GHz. Hence the resonant frequency of the standard patch at 1.48 GHz was reduced to 1.21 GHz for the fully meshed patch, a reduction of 32%. The radiation patterns were most affected as shown in Fig. 6. The most notable change was in the back radiation which increases inversely with the density of the mesh. This is because the ground plane

Fig. 6. Measured radiation patterns in H plane for rectangular meshed patch Solid ground plane; with solid and meshed ground planes. Meshed ground plane.

Fig. 7.

TM

mode meshed patch.

effectively leaks radiation through the mesh, the more holes in the mesh the greater the leakage. The meshing also improves the cross polarization levels in the forward direction by about 5 dB. Before completing this section it is worth noting that these meshed patches can excite circular polarization in a similar manner to conventional patches [6]. IV. HIGHER ORDER MODES ON CIRCULAR PATCHES There have been many papers published on higher order mode circular patch antennas where either a lower elevation coverage is required as for satellite communications applications [7], [8] or for omni-directional azimuth patterns [9]. In [10] we reported mode. Here we how the patch could be meshed for the discuss the performance of a mode mesh as shown in Fig. 7 where the mesh line geometry is immediately recognisable from the current pattern. Computed current distributions on the meshed patch, Fig. 8, show that this pattern is the optimized mode. one for peak performance at the Table I summarizes the measured changes in the properties of the patch at this higher order mode. Meshing the patch reduces

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it narrows slightly in the other planes. The main lobes are little affected in the forward region but significant rearward radiation is noticeable. The effect of exciting a given mode on the wrong mesh geometry, i.e. a line geometry that does not follow the intrinsic surface current directions for that mode, has been studied. As expected the cross-polarization increased by 58 dB while the gain was reduced slightly by 1 dB. V. DISCUSSION The study has discussed the effects of meshing patch antennas and their ground planes. The radiation patterns are not significantly affected by meshing the patch alone, keeping a solid ground plane, but the gain suffers by up to 3 dB when compared to a standard patch. In general the denser the mesh the higher the gain. Cross-polarization can be improved using a mesh providing the correct mesh line geometry is chosen for the excitation mode. Thin, widely spaced lines improved levels to 20 dB or better in this study. Meshing the patch lowered the resonant frequency by up to 20% and hence provides a method for reducing patch sizes for a given frequency. On meshing the ground plane as well as the patch radiation leaks through the mesh increasing the radiated fields in the reverse direction dependent on the mesh density. The resonant frequency drops further and a reduction of 32% was measured for one example. Meshing the complete antenna improved the bandwidth by a factor of up to 2.5 for the fundamental modes but higher order mode bandwidths were not changed. Several aspects of performance are not fully understood and need further investigation, the most notable being the bandwidth and loss mechanisms. Improved modeling will be investigated to understand these structures better. Overall the meshed patch offers a complex tradeoff between parameters but gives opportunities for improving the bandwidth and reducing the cross polarization and the antenna dimensions at the expense of the gain. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors wish to thank Harada Industries Europe, Ltd., Birmingham, U.K., for sponsoring this work. REFERENCES
Fig. 9. Measured radiation patterns for TM21 mode in three planes for a 0 plane; 45 meshed patch over a meshed ground plane. plane; 90 plane. [1] L. Economou and R. J. Langley, Circular microstrip patch antennas on glass for vehicle applications, in Proc. Inst. Elect. Eng. Microwave, Antennas and Propagation, vol. 145, 1998, pp. 416420. [2] P. Lowes, S. R. Day, E. Korolkiewicz, and A. Sambel, Performance of microstrip patch antenna with electrically thick laminated superstrate, Electron. Lett., vol. 30, pp. 19031905, 1994. [3] M.-S. Wu and K. Ito, Meshed microstrip antennas constructed on a transparent substrate, IEICE Trans., vol. E74, pp. 12771281, 1991. [4] G. Clasen and R. J. Langley, Gridded circular patch antennas, Microwave Opt. Technol. Lett., vol. 21, pp. 311313, 1999. , Meshed patch antenna integrated into car windscreen, Electron. [5] Lett., vol. 36, no. 9, pp. 781782, 2000. [6] Handbook of Microstrip Antennas, J. R. James and P. S. Hall, Eds., Peter Peregrinus, Stevenage, U.K., 1989. [7] A. Das, S. K. Das, and S. P. Mathur, Radiation characteristics of higher order modes in microstrip ring antenna, in Proc. Inst. Elect. Eng. Microwave, Antennas and Propagation, vol. 131, 1984, pp. 102106. [8] J. C. Batchelor and R. J. Langley, Dual, switched mode stacked ring array, Electron. Lett., vol. 29, no. 15, pp. 13191320, 1993. [9] L. Economou and R. J. Langley, Patch antenna equivalent to simple monopole, Electron. Lett., vol. 33, no. 9, pp. 727728, 1997.

Fig. 8.

Currents over patch of Fig. 7.

TABLE I MODE PATCH MESHED AS IN FIG. 7 MEASURED RESULTS FOR THE

TM

the bandwidth to 1.2% compared to 1.6% measured for the standard patch. This is restored on meshing the ground in addition to the patch. On meshing the ground plane the front to back ratio suffers as noted above but this produces the best cross-polarization. The resonant frequency can be reduced from 2.91 GHz for the standard patch to 2.58 GHz for the fully meshed structure. mode fully meshed patch Radiation patterns for the structure are plotted in Fig. 9 for the three principle planes, 0 , 45 , and 90 . As was found for the fundamental mode antennas described in the earlier section, meshing only the patch did not affect the radiation patterns. Fig. 9 shows that the pattern broadens when the ground is meshed in the 45 plane while

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ANTENNAS AND PROPAGATION, VOL. 52, NO. 6, JUNE 2004

[10] G. Clasen and R. J. Langley, Patch antennas constructed from meshes, in Proc. Antennas Propagation, Orlando, FL, 1999, pp. 26382641.

Gisela Clasen was born in Germany in 1970. She received the Dipl.Ing. degree from the University of Siegen, Germany, and the Ph.D. degree in electronic engineering from the University of Kent at Caterbury, U.K., in 1996 and 2000, respectively. Since 2000, she has been an Antenna Engineer at C. Plath GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, specializing in direction finding antennas.

Richard Langley (M85) was born in 1949. He received the B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Kent, Kent, U.K., in 1971 and 1979, respectively. In 1997, he founded the European Technology Centre for Harada Industries Japan, the worlds leading automotive antennas manufacturer, and was Director of the Centre until 2003 when he returned to academic life. While at Harada Industries of Japan, he developed automotive antenna technologies that resulted in many patents and direct industry linked research. He is currently a Professor of antenna systems at the University of Kent. He has published over 200 papers in leading journals and international conferences. For many years his main research was in the field of frequency selective surfaces applying them in the satellite and defence fields. This led to his current interest in the development of novel electromagnetic band gap materials. In recent years, his interests have also included patch antennas based on glass and ferrite substrates, and particularly hidden vehicle antennas ranging from low frequency radio to multiband telematics antennas. Prof. Langley is an Honorary Editor of the Institution of Electrical Engineers Proceedings on Microwaves, Antennas and Propagation.