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A compact ultra-wideband (UWB) antenna with directional radiation is presented. The antenna has a low profile and does not need a large ground for its performance. The antenna is based on using a three-dimensional folded structure that is modified using semi-circular slots on bowtie-shaped elements. The antenna's mechanism, its design guidelines and its optimisation are described thoroughly. A prototype of the antenna is fabricated and measured for performance verification. The prototype shows 77% fractional bandwidth (centred at 2 GHz) based on 10 dB return loss reference. The equivalent overall size of the prototype is (λeff/3) × (λeff/4) × 0.07λeff (λeff = effective wavelength at the lowest resonant frequency), which proves the compactness of the antenna. The antenna shows unidirectional radiation pattern with around 15 dB front-to-back ratio, -20 dB cross-polarisation in the two principle planes and around 5 dBi gain. The antenna is prescribed for compact UWB applications that use the low 1-3 GHz frequency band.