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Low cost electronically steered phase arrays for weather applications

Mauricio Sanchez Barbetty, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The Electronically Steered Phased Array is one of the most versatile antennas used in radars applications. Some of the advantages of electronic steering are faster scan, no moving parts and higher reliability. However, the cost of phased arrays has always been prohibitive—in the order of $1M per square meter. The cost of a phased array is largely impacted by the cost of the high frequency electronics at each element and the cost of packaging. Advances in IC integration will allow incorporating multiple elements such as low noise amplifier, power amplifier, phase shifters and up/down-conversion into one or two ICs. Even though the cost for large quantities of ICs (both Silicon and GaAs) has lowered, the high cost of IC packaging and the array backplane still make the use of phase arrays for radar applications costly. The focus of this research is on techniques that reduce the packaging and the backplane cost of large electronically steered arrays. These techniques are based on simplified signal distributions schemes, reduction of layers in the backplane and use of inexpensive materials. Two architectures designed based on these techniques, as well as a novel BGA active antenna package for dual polarized phased arrays are presented. The first architecture, called the series fed row-column architecture, focuses on the reduction of phase shifters and control signals used in the backplane of the array. The second architecture, called the parallel plate feed architecture, is based on a simplified scheme for distribution of the local oscillator signal. A prototype making use of each one of these architectures is presented. Analysis of advantages and disadvantages of each of these architectures is described. The necessity of cost reduction is a factor that can possibly impact the polarization performance of the antenna. This factor is a motivation to study and develop calibration techniques that reduce the cross-polarization of electronically steered phased arrays. Advances on Interleaving Sparse Arrays, a beam forming technique for polarization improvement/correction in phased arrays, are also presented.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering

Recommended Citation

Sanchez Barbetty, Mauricio, "Low cost electronically steered phase arrays for weather applications" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3445182.