This invention relates to the field of antennas, and more particularly,
to antenna structures for covering a diversity of frequency bands. In one aspect,
this invention relates to a coaxial dielectric rod antenna with multi-frequency
A large number of different radio frequency systems have come into
use for communication, navigation, electronic warfare and radar systems. State of
the art automotive and aerospaceborne vehicles which utilize such radio frequency
systems could have more than a dozen separate antennas to cover diversity of frequency
bands. However, many mobile platforms have limited space for multiple antennas operating
in widely separated frequency bands.
Alternatively, a number of wide bandwidth antenna elements have been
developed for electronic warfare and signal intelligence systems. Current state-of-art
antennas include flared notch elements each with about an octave of bandwidth (2:
1). Other antenna elements such as spirals, log periodic elements, biconical dipoles
and conical monopoles all have a bandwidth limit of about 2:1 and they tend to have
relatively large physical dimensions, and, as such, are not well-suited for mobile
One solution to this multi-antenna, multi-aperture problem now faced
by land, sea, air and spaceborne vehicles has been multi-function, multi-frequency,
phased array antenna apertures with electronic beam forming and scanning/tracking.
However, today broadband antenna elements and phased array antennas are limited
by the bandwidth and dimensions of the antenna feed elements to a maximum frequency
ratio of about one octave (2:1). Broad bandwidth phased array antennas composed
of broadband feed elements must address several conflicting design parameters:
- 1) low side lobes require that the phase centers of the feed antennas be closely
spaced one half wavelength apart at the highest frequency of operation;
- 2) feed antennas have dimensions approaching one half wavelength at the lowest
- 3) large numbers of broadband amplifiers must be connected to every feed antenna
in a 2:1 bandwidth array; and
- 4) often a second set of crossed linear antenna elements and associated electronics
are required if the array is to transmit and receive signals in orthogonal linear
polarization and in both circular polarizations.
Therefore, there exists a need for an effective antenna structure
which can cover a diversity of frequency bands, a diversity of polarizations, and
can be useful in phased array antenna systems. The present invention provides a
unique solution to meet such needs.
In accordance with the present invention, an inventive three dimensional,
ultra-broad bandwidth, multi-aperture, dielectric antenna is provided which combines
features of tapered dielectric rod antennas and coaxial dielectric waveguide transmission
lines. The coaxial dielectric rod antenna (CDRA) in accordance with the present
invention has multi-frequency collinear apertures which can be optimized for use
as individual multi-band antennas or as feed elements in broad bandwidth active
aperture phased array antennas. In essence, the CDRA in accordance with the present
invention combines into a single structure many separate antennas which cover a
diversity of frequency bands.
A first embodiment of the invention includes a first dielectric antenna
rod having a first dielectric constant. The first dielectric antenna rod is coupled
to a first frequency transmission source for propagating first frequency band radiation
from the first dielectric antenna rod into a medium having a medium dielectric constant.
A second dielectric antenna rod is provided having a second dielectric constant.
The second dielectric antenna rod is coupled to a second frequency transmission
source for propagating second frequency band radiation from the second dielectric
antenna rod into the medium. The first dielectric antenna rod is coaxially mounted
within the second dielectric antenna rod. The first dielectric constant is greater
than the second dielectric constant. The second dielectric constant is greater than
the medium dielectric constant.
In accordance with the first embodiment, the second dielectric antenna
rod can include an axial cylindrical cavity along the length of the second dielectric
antenna rod. The axial cylindrical cavity can be filled with a dielectric powder
having the first dielectric constant. The dielectric powder can be secured within
the axial cylindrical cavity by end plugs having the first dielectric constant and
be located at respective proximal and distal ends of the second dielectric antenna
rod. Further, the first frequency transmission source can be axially coupled to
the first dielectric antenna rod while the second frequency transmission source
can be coupled to the second dielectric antenna by a transmission line axially offset
from the second dielectric antenna rod. The second dielectric antenna rod can be
made of a thermoplastic resin. The dielectric powder can be barium tetra-titanate
or nickel-aluminum titanate.
Another embodiment of the present invention includes a first dielectric
antenna rod having a first dielectric constant. The first dielectric antenna rod
is coupled to a first frequency transmission source for propagating first frequency
band radiation from the first dielectric antenna rod into a medium having a medium
dielectric constant. A second dielectric antenna rod is provided having a second
dielectric constant. The second dielectric antenna rod is coupled to a second frequency
transmission source for propagating second frequency band radiation from the second
dielectric antenna rod into the medium. The first dielectric antenna rod is coaxially
mounted within the second dielectric antenna rod. A third dielectric antenna rod
having a third dielectric constant is also provided. The third dielectric antenna
rod is coupled to a third frequency transmission source for propagating third frequency
band radiation from the third dielectric antenna rod into the medium. The second
dielectric antenna rod is coaxially mounted within the third dielectric antenna
rod. The first dielectric constant is greater than the second dielectric constant.
The second dielectric constant is greater than the third dielectric constant. The
third dielectric constant is greater than the medium dielectric constant.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
- Fig. 1 shows in schematic form a prior art polyrod tapered dielectric antenna.
- Fig. 2 shows in schematic form an embodiment of the present invention.
- Fig. 3 shows a partially exploded perspective view of an embodiment of the present
- Figs. 4a - 4c show plan and section views of an embodiment of the present invention.
- Fig. 5 shows Fig. 2 shows in schematic form another embodiment of the present
- Figs. 6a - 6c show alternative embodiments of the present invention.
A uniform rod of dielectric material is a well-known type transmission
line for electromagnetic waves ranging in wavelength from radio to optical frequencies.
Various microwave and milli-meter wave dielectric transmission lines have been demonstrated,
including single dielectric fibers, as described in U.S. Patent 4, 293,833 issued
to Popa, and coaxial fibers of multiple dielectrics as described in U.S. Patent
4,800,350 issued to Bridges et al. A microwave transition using dielectric waveguide
is described in U.S. Patent 5,684,495 issued to Dyott et al. in which a dielectric
rod antenna couples a standard metallic waveguide to a dielectric rod transmission
line. Similarly, narrowband polyrod dielectric antennas and antenna arrays are well-known.
Such antennas include those developed at the Bell Telephone Laboratories during
World War II for radar antenna array elements, as described in the Bell System Technical
Journal, Vol. XXVI, 1947, pages 837 - 851. Also, an embedded dielectric rod antenna
has been described in U.S. Patent 4,274, 097 issued to Krall et al. that embeds
a dielectric rod antenna with a relative dielectric constant of 84 in a dielectric
cylinder of relative dielectric constant 81. High dielectric constant material is
used to form a compact narrow beam antenna.
Further, dual frequency antennas have been developed involving a dielectric
transmission line. A dual frequency feed satellite antenna horn is described in
U.S. Patent 4,785,306 issued to Adams in which a Ku band dielectric transmission
line passes along the center of a conventional metallic C-band waveguide and then
exits through an end wall.
In dielectric transmission lines of this type a portion of the energy
travels along the inside of the dielectric rod and a portion travels along in the
space outside of the rod. Electromagnetic energy can propagate along the dielectric
fiber in a series of modes with the lowest order HE11 mode being the mode of primary
interest. The useful bandwidth of the dielectric waveguide extends from the lowest
frequency at which the HE11 mode is reasonably well contained up to the lowest frequency
where the next lowest order modes, the TM01 and TE01, can propagate.
When internal or external discontinuities are encountered along the
dielectric rod, radiation takes place. This tendency was used to advantage at the
Bell Telephone Laboratories in the 1940s to form the microwave "polyrod" antennas.
A representative polyrod tapered dielectric antenna 10 is schematically depicted
in Fig. 1 and is discussed in more detail in Chapter 16 of the Antenna Engineering
Handbook, published by McGraw-Hill, 1961. Dielectric antenna 10 is coupled to metal
waveguide 12 and typically has a feed taper 14, a body taper 16, a straight section
18 and a terminal taper section 20. In the dielectric rod antenna radiation is encouraged
from all parts of the rod by gradually tapering the diameter of the rod and then
abruptly terminating it at a point where the radiation has been essentially completed.
By well-know proper design techniques this radiating structure forms a directional
endfire antenna with the gain determined primarily by the length of the taper.
The dielectric rod transmission line can be evolved into a coaxial
dielectric transmission line by surrounding the core rod with a second dielectric
cylinder of slightly lower dielectric constant. This outer sheath confines the electric
fields less tightly inside the dielectric material than does air with its relative
dielectric constant ε of 1, but serves to protect these fields from outside
influence. This is the concept used in optical fiber transmission lines.
In accordance with the present invention, features of the dielectric
rod antenna and coaxial dielectric transmission lines are combined to form a series
of concentric collinear apertures, each operating in the fundamental HE11 mode over
greater than 2:1 frequency ratios in their respective frequency bands.
Referring to Fig. 2 the essence of the present invention is depicted
in schematic form. Antenna 20, which in the embodiment depicted hereinbelow is configured
for operation both at 9.4 GHz in "low" frequency X-band and at 94 GHz in "high"
frequency W-Band, includes core rod 22 of dielectric constant ε3
which is inserted into rod 24 of dielectric constant ε2, which in
turn is surrounded by medium 26 of dielectric constant ε1 (usually
air), forming two concentric dielectric transmission lines, which are respectively
coupled to high band waveguide transducer 27 and low band waveguide transducer 28.
Dielectric constant ε3 will be greater than dielectric constant
ε2, which will be greater than dielectric constant ε1.
By tapering this combined structure in a controlled manner, the transmission line
formed by dielectric rods ε1 and ε2 will provide
radiating of low band radiation 30 along the tapered surface followed collinerally
by radiating of high band radiation 32 from the second embedded transmission line
formed by dielectric rods ε2 and ε3 The bandwidth,
gain and beamwidth of each of these apertures can be individually adjusted for a
specific application or they can be optimized for combined operation as feed antennas
as part of a large active aperture phased array antenna system.
Referring collectively to Figs. 3 and 4a - 4c there is depicted a
first embodiment of the present invention. Antenna 40 includes support housing 42,
which is made from two symmetrical mirror image aluminum housing blocks 44a, 44b,
each having length 43 of 3.5", width 45 of 2.25" and combined height 47 of 1.625".
Block 44a clamps down on block 44b and is secured in place by screws 46a - 46d passing
through clearance holes 48a - 48d coupling with threaded holes 50a - 50 d. Support
rod 52 includes tapered rod 54, thin tubing 56 and tapered transition 58. Tapered
transition 58 at proximal end 59 of tapered rod 54 has a 45° taper thereat and couples
tapered rod 54 with thin tubing 56. Support rod 52 is made of a relatively loss-less
dielectric material having a dielectric constant greater than that of air, e.g.,
having an ε2 = 2.08, such as that provided by thermoplastic resins,
and in particular, the commonly known fluorocarbon resin Teflon (trademark). Thin
tubing 56 can be formed from standard AWG20 teflon tubing. Tapered rod 54 has a
straight section 60 having a diameter 62 of approximately .75" for tapered rod 54
support in cylindrical recess 64 of housing blocks 44a, 44b, and having a support
length 66 of 1". Thin tubing 56 is likewise supported in cylindrical recess 68 of
housing blocks 44a, 44b, cylindrical recess 68 being dimensioned to allow a press-fit
of AWG20 size tubing. Cylindrical recess 68 is in axial alignment with cylindrical
recess 64. Tapered rod 54 tapers from dimension 62 at the edge of housing blocks
44a, 44b to dimension 70 of 2mm at tapered rod distal end 72 over taper length 74
Support rod 52 axially houses therein an axial cylindrical cavity
76 of approximately 1 mm diameter. Cylindrical cavity 76 is filled with powder-like
high dielectric material 78 and has proximal end cap 80 and distal end cap 82 terminating
each end. Proximal end cap 80 and distal end cap 82 are typically rigid pieces of
approximately 1 mm diameter press-fit supported over a suitable length of cylindrical
cavity 76, typically made of the same material as powder-like material 78, and act
as plugs. Proximal end cap 80 has a taper 81 over length 84 of 2 mm and protrudes
the same amount from housing blocks 44a, 44b. Distal end cap 82 has a similar taper
83 over length 86 of 2mm. Distal end cap 82 extends distance 88 of approximately
1.125" from tapered rod distal end 72.
In the first embodiment, material with a dielectric constant of 30,
such as barium tetra-titanate powder or nickel-aluminum titanate powder, as is described
in U.S. Patent No. 4,800,350 entitled "Dielectric Waveguide Using Powdered Material",
was found to be a most effective powder-like material 78. Those skilled in the art
will recognize that the material and the powder consistency can be varied to enable
changeable antenna frequencies.
As referred to above, the low frequency antenna of the present embodiment
is designed to operate at 9.4 GHz while the high frequency antenna operates at 94
GHz. There are, accordingly, two corresponding waveguide ports for the respective
frequency inputs, namely, low frequency port 90 and high frequency port 92. Low
frequency port 90 is a standard WR90 waveguide port, having a .9" by .4" waveguide
mouth. High frequency port 92 is a standard WR8 waveguide port having a .08" by
.04" waveguide mouth. Standard mounting holes are provided to enable corresponding
WR90 and WR8 feed transmission lines (not shown) to be coupled to support housing
42. In the first embodiment low frequency port 90 is physically located at 90° to
high frequency port 92. High frequency port 92 is axially in line with the dielectric
rods of the antenna. Low frequency port 90 tapers over 90° bend 94 to interface
with end 96 of housing cylindrical recess 64. As such, low frequency port 90 tapers
to end 96 having guide dimensions 98, 100 of .9" by .9" respectively.
Support rod 52 can be press fit into housing cylindrical recess 64.
However, support rod 52 can be allowed to be axially moveable to allow frequency
tuning of the antenna if desired.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that it is possible to extend
this invention to operation in three frequency bands by triaxially embedding dielectric
rods of increasing large dielectric constant. This is schematically depicted in
Fig. 5. Core rod 122 of dielectric constant ε4 is inserted into
rod 124 of dielectric constant ε3, which in turn is inserted into
rod 125 of dielectric constant ε2. The non-imbedded portions of
the respective rods are surrounded by medium 126 of dielectric constant ε1
(usually air), forming three concentric dielectric transmission lines, which are
respectively coupled to high band waveguide transducer 127, mid-band waveguide transducer
128 and low band waveguide transducer 130. Dielectric constant ε4
will be greater than dielectric constant ε3, which will be greater
than dielectric constant ε2, which will be greater than dielectric
constant ε1. By tapering this combined structure in a controlled
manner, the transmission line formed by dielectric rods ε1 and ε2
will provide low band radiation 132, followed collinerally by radiating mid-band
radiation 134 from the second embedded transmission line formed by dielectric rods
ε2 and ε3, followed collinerally by radiating high
band radiation 136 from the second embedded transmission line formed by dielectric
rods ε3 and ε4.
Those skilled in the art can also appreciate that it is possible to
extend this invention to operation in four or more frequency bands by increasing
the multiple embedding dielectric rods of increasingly large dielectric constant.
Further, dielectric rod antennas with periodic perturbations excited
by dielectric rod transmission lines have been developed for use over smaller bandwidths
(a few percent ) to shape the radiation patterns for omndirectional coverage and
are described in the literature. These configurations, examples of which are depicted
in Figs. 6a, 6b, and 6c, could also be incorporated by those skilled in the art.
As has been described hereinabove a coaxial dielectric rod antenna
(CDRA) has been provided with multi-frequency collinear apertures that combines
thin (relative to a half wavelength in air) dielectric rod antenna elements embedded
with a series of one or more coaxial dielectric waveguides with collinear tapered
radiating apertures of increasing dielectric constant, forming an array of two or
more radiating apertures. Each of the radiating apertures on the CDRA can operate
over a broad bandwidth in different frequency bands. All of the elements in the
CDRA support both linear and circular polarizations and each of the collinear apertures
can be coupled to separate electronics modules each of which are optimized for use
in the specific frequency band of operation.
When combined into a phased array antenna the CDRA antenna elements
can provide several novel features:
- 1) Each radiating aperture on the coaxial rod has an operating bandwidth ratio
of at least 2:1. Thus, a two aperture antenna would provide an operating bandwidth
of 4:1 and a three aperture antenna would operate over an 8:1 frequency range.
- 2) A multi-aperture CDRA could operate in widely separated frequency bands such
as X-Band and W-Band.
- 3) The diameter of the CDRA dielectric waveguides can be very small at the lowest
operating frequencies, enabling dense spacing to support operation at the highest
- 4) The CDRA feed elements reduce the number and complexity of the electronics
in the feed manifold by enabling separate, optimized electronics transmitter/receiver
(T/R) circuits to be packaged in separate planes located behind the antenna surface.
- 5) The endfire nature of the CDRA eliminates the need for a metallic ground
plane at the base of the feed antennas which is required for most currently used
broadband antenna feed elements. This will reduce the weight of phased array antennas
and enable mounting antennas of this type on plastic and composite surfaces now
in common use in aircraft, spacecraft and automotive structures.