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International Journal of Antennas and Propagation
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 870318, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/870318
Research Article

Performance Comparison of Symmetric and Offset Reflector Antennas Adaptively Illuminated by Novel Triple Mode Feedhorn

Antenna and Microwave Laboratory (AML), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-1309, USA

Received 19 June 2012; Revised 2 August 2012; Accepted 14 August 2012

Academic Editor: Ananda S. Mohan

Copyright © 2012 Satish K. Sharma and Mukund R. Thyagarajan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Parabolic symmetric and offset reflector antennas adaptively illuminated using a novel triple-mode feedhorn ( ) with different mode combinations and impedance and radiation performances are presented. The combination of the radiating modes in a feedhorn with proper amplitude and fixed phase values helps in electronically pointing the main beam of the radiating patterns such as that obtained in a beam-steering antenna with limited beam-scan range. This type of radiation performance virtually creates a displaced phase center location for the feedhorn, which, consequently, adaptively illuminates the reflector antenna surface. Impedance-matching bandwidths are preserved for both reflector antennas similar to the case of feedhorn alone. The copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization levels are far better with the offset reflector antenna than the symmetric reflector antenna. Such reflector antennas find applications in ground moving target indicator (GMTI) and space based radars. The investigation results are solely computed using FEKO full-wave analysis tool.

1. Introduction

Reflector and feedhorn antenna assemblies have been widely used for various applications requiring high gain and narrow beamwidth radiation patterns such as satellite communications and radar applications [1]. A dual mode horn as a feed source was investigated for symmetric and offset reflector antennas in [2, 3] where TE11 and TM01 modes were excited to generate horizontal (Phi = 0°) plane multiple phase centers and consequently, reflector antenna radiation performance was presented. This antenna had a targeted application for the GMTI radar. Similarly, the TE11 and TE21 modes based horn was also investigated for a vertical (Phi = 90°) plane multiple phase centers in [4]. For a GMTI radar or space-based radar kind applications, multiple beam pointing from a feedhorn is desired, where a specific feed pattern position refers to a specific phase center location. The resulting reflector antenna radiation patterns are then processed using digital signal processing techniques to predict moving target location, shape, size, and so forth. Further, in [5], the authors investigated a virtual reflector antenna performance by employing TE11 + TM01 and TE11 + TE21 modes as theoretical modes in a feed pattern.

To offer additional flexibility in adaptive illumination of the reflector surface, where feed pattern is scanning in ± angle in both the Phi = 0° and 90° planes, a triple-mode feedhorn (TE11 + TM01 + TE21) is employed as a source to the reflector surfaces. Consequently, reflector antenna impedance matching and radiation performance are investigated for both the symmetric and offset reflectors and a comparison is made when only two modes from the feedhorn are excited at a time. The triple-mode feedhorn operates in the frequency range of 7.47 GHz to 8 GHz and generates beam scanning performance by exciting the modes in proper amplitude and phase combinations which was preliminarily discussed in [6]. Some initial investigations on the reflector antenna performance with this feedhorn were presented in [7]. One of the aims is to achieve minimum 500 MHz instantaneous frequency bandwidth when all the modes are impedance matched ( = −10 dB). Additionally, reflector antenna gain should be minimum 34 dBi, although any higher gain is certainly better. Infact, by employing three modes in feed, we have been able to achieve gain around 37 dBi, which is 3 dB high. Additionally, the current feedhorn is capable of offering a horizontal or vertical or combination of both phase center positions which can give additional flexibility for applications such as the GMTI radar.

The simulation and analysis have been performed using EMSS's FEKO tool which is a Method-of-Moment (MOM) based Maxwell equation solver [8]. While method of moment (MOM) is used for feedhorn analysis, reflector antenna performance is computed using physical optics (PO) method using hybridization technique inbuilt with the FEKO.

2. Triple-Mode Feedhorn Performance

A novel triple-mode feedhorn designed earlier in [6] is reanalysed using FEKO. The feedhorn that excites the TE11, TM01, and TE21, modes is analysed to understand its impedance and radiation performance as well as radiation performance when the modes are combined. The geometry of the feedhorn is as shown in Figure 1. The horn has two chokes at the aperture to maintain beamwidth required for illumination of the reflector. Three circular waveguides of selected radii: 1.34 cm, 1.53 cm, and 2.1 cm, respectively, are used to support the TE11, TM01, and TE21 modes. The diameters of the circular waveguides supporting above modes are selected in accordance to the Bessel function equations [9]. For exciting the TM01 and TE21 modes, two rectangular waveguides each are employed as shown in Figure 1. The rectangular waveguides are oppositely placed in the TE21 mode than the TM01 mode. Further, while the TE11 mode is horizontally polarized, TM01 mode is vertically polarized. Similalrly, TE21 mode is horizontally polarized. The total length of the horn is 24 cm with an aperture diameter of 7.6 cm.

870318.fig.001
Figure 1: Geometry of the triple-mode feedhorn designed using CADFEKO.

The reflection coefficient magnitudes for the triple-mode feedhorn (Figure 1) are shown in the Figure 2. For the TE11 mode, a matching bandwidth better than, ≤ −10 dB, is from 7.43 GHz to 7.94 GHz which is our main band of operation. It is observed that the reflection coefficient of the other ports, that is, , exciting TM01 mode is from 7.46 to 8.34 GHz and , exciting the TE21 mode is from 7.3 to 8.05 GHz. The feedhorn’s center frequency of operation is 7.73 GHz. The overall common bandwidth considering all the modes is from 7.43 GHz to 7.94 GHz which approximates to 510 MHz and can meet the bandwidth requirements for several practical GMTI radar applications.

870318.fig.002
Figure 2: Reflection coefficient magnitudes for the TE11, TM01, and TE21 modes excited in the triple-mode feedhorn.

The Gain radiation patterns of the triple-mode feedhorn with the selected mode combination of TE11(20%) + TM01(40%) + TE21(40%) with ±90° fixed phase values are shown in Figures 3(a) and 3(b), respectively. The amount of power in respective modes is shown in percentage. The peak copolarization gain obtained is found to be 9.77 dBi. Peak cross-polarization level is also around −4.1 dB from copolarization beam peak for either of the cases. The peak copolarization gain is found to occur at scan angle of = ±18° for the ±90° phase values. It can also be seen that as phase changes from +90° to −90°, the direction of the beam peak changes from + to − . Also both copolarization beam peaks are scanning in this case contrary to the TE11 + TM01 and TE11 + TE21 mode combinations based radiation patterns where only one copolarization beam peak scans [2, 4]. Beam scan angles can further be varied by varying the mode power contents as shown in Figure 4. It can be seen that as the TE11 mode power decreases, beam scan angle increases, however at the cost of gain drop. These adaptive feed patterns, controlled by amplitude contents with either +90° or −90° fixed phase values, when illuminate the reflector surface will have reflector patterns corresponding to different phase centers.

fig3
Figure 3: Gain radiation patterns of the triple-mode feedhorn with mode combination of TE11(20%) + TM01(40%) + TE21(40%) at 7.73 GHz for (a) +90° fixed phase, and (b) −90° fixed phase.
870318.fig.004
Figure 4: The triple-mode feedhorn copolarization gain patterns with variable amplitude contents in TE11 + TM01 + TE21 modes at 7.73 GHz for +90° fixed phase. Power contents in modes are mentioned as percentage.

The beam scanning capability directly translates to the change is phase center location of the feedhorn as discussed in [2, 3], therefore we only show phase center for a selected power contents for the mode combination with the fixed phase values. Thus a study was performed to determine the phase center of this feedhorn with the mode combination of the TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) with +90° and −90° fixed phase. In Figure 5, far field and phase curves represent the and cuts copolarizations parameter for the above mentioned mode combination with the selected power contents and phase value of +90°. Similarly, phase curves of the and represent the and cuts copolarization parameter for the same mode behavior but with the −90° phase. These are as a result of several parametric simulations to determine this position and after extensive analysis, we determined its position to be at = ±7.6 mm and = −2 mm which are shown in Figure 5. For the mode combination with phase of +90°, we observe it at = −7.6 mm, = −2 mm and for the −90° case, we observe it to be at = +7.6 mm, = −2 mm. The curves are flat in this region which is a requirement for determining the phase center. The displaced phase center position can similarly be found for different other mode combinations too; however, it is somewhat a trial and error procedure which takes enormous effort to exactly point the phase center position, especially using a full wave analysis tool. Due to this reason and also that a detailed phase center study was shown in [2], hence is not included here. Additional triple-mode feedhorn performance results were discussed in [6], therefore are omitted here for the sake of brevity.

870318.fig.005
Figure 5: Phase distribution for the triple-mode feedhorn at 7.73 GHz.

3. Symmetric Reflector Antenna Performance with Triple-Mode Feedhorn

A reflector antenna is basically a scattering surface which when properly illuminated by a feed source reflects the incident rays as a concentrated bundle of parallel rays or plane wave and consequently, resulting into high gain antenna performance depending upon the aperture area of the reflector surface [1]. The triple-mode feedhorn discussed in the previous section is used as a feed source to illuminate the surface of a symmetric parabolic reflector as shown in Figure 6. This reflector antenna is designed with ratio = 0.50 and reflector diameter, = 1.2 meter. The full feed and reflector antenna model has been generated using EMSS's FEKO tool which is well recognized for analyzing problems relating to electrically large surfaces and uses different solution methods to solve the full antenna model. One of the advantages of this tool is that we not only compute radiation performance, but also impedance matching result is computed which basically considers the interaction of the feed with the reflector surface.

870318.fig.006
Figure 6: Feedhorn with a parabolic reflector antenna in symmetric configuration.

The reflection coefficient magnitudes for excited modes of the feedhorn, when illuminating the reflector surface are shown in Figure 7. This considers any interactions between the feed and reflector surface. It can be observed that matching bandwidth is preserved as obtained for the feedhorn alone (Figure 2). The common matching bandwidths, for all the modes, is from 7.48 to 7.97 GHz with better than −10 dB matching criteria. In the plot, the corresponds to the reflection coefficient of the TE11 mode, and corresponds to the reflection coefficient of the TM01 mode, and corresponds to the reflection coefficient of the TE21 mode.

870318.fig.007
Figure 7: Reflection coefficient magnitudes of the modes TE11, TM01, and TE21 when the symmetric reflector is excited with a triple-mode feedhorn.

The reflector antenna radiation patterns are shown in Figures 8(a) and 8(b), when the feedhorn excites dual mode only with the equal mode power contents of the TE11(50%) + TM01(50%) but for +90° and −90° phase differences, respectively. We observe from Figures 8(a) and 8(b) that the peak gain values of 35.18 dBi are occurring for Phi = 0° cut palne at +1.2° and −1.2° for +90° and −90° phase differences, respectively. This beam squint is not an expectation because of the feed’s scanned patterns or because of the phase center displacement rather it is computation error. The peak cross-polarization levels are quite high −8.74 dB for the two mode excitations, which is attributed to the higher order mode radiation behavior. The peak cross-polarization curve is Gaintheta at phi = 90° cut plane.

fig8
Figure 8: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(50%) + TM01(50%) for the fixed phase values of (a) +90° and (b) −90°.

Now, the reflector antenna radiation patterns for the feedhorn’s dual mode combination of TE11(50%) + TE21(50%), which has equal mode power distribution with +90° and −90° phase differences, are shown in Figures 9(a) and 9(b), respectively. We observe from Figures 9(a) and 9(b) that, the peak gain values of 34.75 dBi are occurring for Phi = 90° cut plane at +1.4° and −1.4° for +90° and −90° phase differences, respectively. As mentioned earlier, the beam scan is not because of the feed’s scanned patterns or because of the phase center displacement. The peak cross-polarization curve is now Gainphi at Phi = 0° cut. The peak cross-polarization levels are still high −11.75 dB for the two mode excitations, which is attributed to the higher order mode radiation behavior. However, comparing TE11 + TE21 mode combination’s radiation performance with that of the TE11 + TM01 based patterns, one can see that, the TE11 + TE21 mode offers better gain and cross-polarization performance.

fig9
Figure 9: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(50%) + TE21(50%). Mode for the fixed phase values of (a) +90° and (b) −90°.

The reflector antenna radiation pattern performance, when the three modes are combined that is, TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) with fixed phase values of +90° and −90°, are shown in Figures 10(a) and 10(b), respectively. Good copolarization gain of around 37 dBi for +90° case is shown in Figure 9(a). Similarly, gain of 37 dBi for the −90° case is shown in Figure 9(b). The combined mode shows more gain as input amplitude of 40% is used for the TE11 mode, which is the dominant mode for the feedhorn, and lower amplitudes of 30% each is fed to the other two modes, and hence, it results in the increased antenna gain, in addition to slightly reduced peak cross-polarization level. Table 1 summarizes the antenna performance for the three different combinations of modes for +90° phase value. It can be observed that, peak copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization level both improve by almost 3 dB with incorporation of all the three modes.

tab1
Table 1: Peak copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization level (below peak gain) values at 7.73 GHz with the different mode combinations. The power to the individual mode is given in percentage.
fig10
Figure 10: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) for the fixed phase values of (a) +90° and (b) −90°.

The variation of the peak copolarization and cross-polarization levels with the input mode combination of TE11 + TM01 + TE21 with mode amplitude distributions of 20% + 40% + 40% and 60% + 20% + 20% for a selected +90° phase at 7.73 GHz are shown in Figures 11(a) and 11(b), respectively. These triple-mode combination radiation performances are compared with TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) mode combination in Table 2. An improvement in the peak cross-polarization level is observed whereas the antenna gain also increases when the TE11 mode has higher amplitude values than the TM01 and TE21 mode amplitudes.

tab2
Table 2: Peak copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization levels (below peak gain) at 7.73 GHz for + phase with different amplitude components.
fig11
Figure 11: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11 + TM01 + TE21 for +90° phase with (a) TE11(20%) + TM01(40%) + TE21(40%) and (b) TE11(60%) + TM01(20%) + TE21(20%).

4. Offset Reflector Antenna Performance with Triple-Mode Feedhorn

The symmetric reflector antenna fed by the triple-mode feedhorn showed reasonably good peak gain but high cross-polarization levels. An offset reflector antenna with the proposed feedhorn is now investigated to see the achievable impedance matching and radiation performances. The antenna geometry is shown in Figure 12. The reflector antenna has the same ratio of 0.50 with reflector diameter = 1.2 meter so that a comparison of this design with that of the symmetric feedhorn reflector antenna can be made. The feed is placed at a tilt angle of 27.75° with respect to that of the reflector surface which has been verified using the design equations in [10].

870318.fig.0012
Figure 12: Configuration of the offset reflector antenna fed by a triple-mode feedhorn.

The reflection coefficient magnitudes for an offset reflector antenna are shown in Figure 13. The impedance matching bands obtained are similar to the matching bands obtained with the feedhorn alone and compares well with the symmetric reflector feedhorn combination also. Thus, impedance matching bandwidths are preserved. The corresponds to the reflection coefficient magnitude of the TE11 mode, whereas and correspond to the reflection coefficient magnitude of the TM01 mode. The and correspond to the reflection coefficient magnitude of the TE21 mode. The common matching bandwidths is from 7.44 to 7.96 GHz with respect to the better than −10 dB matching criteria.

870318.fig.0013
Figure 13: Reflection coefficient magnitude of the offset reflector antenna with triple-mode feedhorn.

The mode combination of TE11(50%) + TM01(50%) with equal amplitude between the modes and a phase difference of ±90° applied between them is shown in Figure 14. The values for the peak gain copolarization and cross-polarization values are as specified in Table 3. Similar to the case of symmetric reflector antenna, the dual mode feedhorn excitations with an offset reflector also produce a beam scanning of ±1° for the ±90° phase shifts applied at the feedhorn ports. Once again, this beam squint is not because of the feed’s scanned patterns or because of the phase center displacement. The peak copolarization to cross-polarization separations remain close to −11.5 dB in Figure 14(a) and −12.9 dB for case in Figure 14(b).

tab3
Table 3: Peak copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization level (below peak gain) values at 7.73 GHz.
fig14
Figure 14: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(50%) + TM01(50%) for (a) +90° and (b) −90° phase values.

The reflector antenna radiation patterns with the mode combination of TE11(50%) + TE21(50%) with equal amplitude distribution to the modes but with a phase difference of ±90° applied between them is shown in Figure 15. The values for the peak copolarization and cross-polarization gain values are as given in Table 3. In this case, an increase in the cross-polarization levels is observed in both the and the cut plane when compared to the previous case of symmetric reflector antenna. The peak co- and cross-polarization separations for the case shown in Figure 14(a) is −16.1 dB and for Figure 14(b), it is −16.2 dB which indicates an improvement in the peak cross-polarization level compared to that of the symmetric reflector feedhorn antenna with the same mode combinations.

fig15
Figure 15: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(50%) + TE21(50%) for (a) +90° and (b) −90° phase values.

The gain radiation patterns for the mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) with phase values of +90° and −90° are shown in Figures 16(a) and 16(b), respectively. From Figure 16(a), we observe a copolarization gain of 37.28 dBi and peak cross-polarization level of −20.85 dB. Similarly, Figure 15(b) shows a peak gain of 36.92 dBi and peak cross-polarization level of −19 dB. When compared to the symmetric reflector antenna’s peak cross-polarization levels of −15 dB (Figure 10(a)) and −13.2 dB (Figure 10(b)), an offset reflector antenna shows an improvement. Table 3 compares the copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization levels for the modes discussed above which confirms discussion of the radiation patterns presented above.

fig16
Figure 16: Reflector antenna radiation patterns at 7.73 GHz with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) for (a) +90° and (b) −90° phase values.

The copolarization gain, cross polarization gain and the peak cross-polarization separation levels over the common matching bandwidth of 7.44 to 7.96 GHz is shown in Figure 17 for the mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%). It can be seen that the copolarization gain increases over the frequency band and is around 37 dBi. The peak cross-polarization gain is observed to be always better than −21 dB.

870318.fig.0017
Figure 17: Representation of co- and cross-polarization Gain values along with peak cross-polarization level for the mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%).

For comparison, the gain radiation patterns at 7.45 GHz and 7.9 GHz are also shown in Figures 18(a) and 18(b), respectively, for the mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) for the selected +90° phase. The values for the copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization level are shown in Table 4 at 7.45 GHz, 7.73 GHz and 7.90 GHz. It can be observed that over the bandwidth, peak copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization levels are around 37 dBi and −21 dB, respectively, as noted earlier also. In future, the proposed feedhorn will be fabricated and experimentally verified for impedance matching and radiation performance. Reflector antenna performance will also be verified.

tab4
Table 4: Copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization level (below peak gain) values within bandwidth for the selected mode combination.
fig18
Figure 18: Reflector antenna radiation patterns with the feedhorn mode combination of TE11(40%) + TM01(30%) + TE21(30%) with +90° phase for (a) 7.45 GHz, and (b) 7.9 GHz.

5. Conclusion

In this paper, a triple-mode feedhorn was employed as a source to the symmetric and offset reflector antennas. The feedhorn is capable of generating adaptive beams as in beam steering antenna by controlling amplitude of the modes with fixed phase values. These beam positions translate to a specific phase center locations. When this feed was employed with a symmetric reflector, it showed reasonable gain but with higher peak cross-polarization levels than with an offset reflector antenna of the same diameter. Impedance matching bandwidths with the reflector antennas remained the same as for the feedhorn alone. The mode combinations of TE11 + TM01, TE11 + TE21 and TE11 + TM01 + TE21 were investigated and it was noted that the best antenna gain and peak cross-polarization performance can be achieved when all three modes are excited in the feedhorn, for both the symmetric and offset reflector antennas. Further, an offset reflector antenna when excited with all the three modes resulted in peak copolarization gain and peak cross-polarization level of around 37 dBi and −21 dB, respectively, throughout the matching bandwidth. The investigated reflector antennas with the triple-mode feedhorn can find applications in GMTI and space-based radar applications.

Acknowledgments

The research work was supported with the National Science Foundation CAREER Grant no. ECCS-0845822. The authors also thank EMSS for providing FEKO license for performing this research work.

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