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Advances in Scanning Reflectarray Antennas Based on Ferroelectric Thin-Film Phase Shifters for Deep-Space Communications

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1 Author(s)
Romanofsky, R.R. ; NASA Glenn Res. Center, Cleveland

Though there are a few examples of scanning phased array antennas that have flown successfully in space, the quest for ldquolow costrdquo high-efficiency large-aperture microwave phased arrays continues. Fixed and mobile applications that may be part of a heterogeneous exploration communication architecture will benefit from the agile (rapid) beam steering and graceful degradation afforded by phased array antennas. The reflectarray promises greater efficiency and economy compared to directly radiating varieties. Implementing a practical scanning version has proven elusive. The ferroelectric reflectarray, under development and described herein, involves phase shifters based on coupled microstrip patterned on films that were laser ablated onto substrates. These devices outperform their semiconductor counterparts from X- through and K-band frequencies. There are special issues associated with the implementation of a scanning reflectarray antenna, especially one realized with thin-film ferroelectric phase shifters. This paper will discuss these issues, which include relevance of phase shifter loss; modulo 2 effects and phase shifter transient effects on bit error rate; scattering from the ground plane; presentation of a novel hybrid ferroelectric-semiconductor phase shifter; and the effect of mild radiation exposure on phase shifter performance.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:95 ,  Issue: 10 )