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Phased Array

Publish Date 2010-11-01
In wave theory, a phased array is a group of antennas in which the relative phases of the respective signals feeding the antennas are varied in such a way that the effective radiation pattern of the array is reinforced in a desired direction and suppressed in undesired directions.Phased array transmission was originally developed in 1905 by Nobel Laureate Karl Ferdinand Braun who demonstrated enhanced transmission of radio waves in one direction.During World War II, Nobel Laureate Luis Alvarez used phased array transmission in a rapidly-steerable radar system for "ground-controlled approach", a system to aid in the landing of airplanes in England. At the same time GEMA in Germany built the PESA Mammut 1.It was later adapted for radio astronomy leading to Nobel Prizes for Physics for Antony Hewish and Martin Ryle after several large phased arrays were developed at the University of Cambridge. The design is also used in radar, and is generalized in interferometric radio antennas. DARPA researchers recently announced a 16 element phased array integrated with all necessary circuits to send at 30?0 GHz on a single silicon chip for military purposes

An antenna array is a multiple of active antennas coupled to a common source or load to produce a directive radiation pattern. Usually the spatial relationship also contributes to the directivity of the antenna. Use of the term "active antennas" is intended to describe elements whose energy output is modified due to the presence of a source of energy in the element (other than the mere signal energy which passes through the circuit) or an element in which the energy output from a source of energy is controlled by the signal input. One common application of this is with a standard multiband television antenna, which has multiple elements coupled together.

Different types of phased arrays

There are two main different types of phased arrays, also called beamformers. There are time domain beamformers and frequency domain beamformers.

A time domain beamformer works, as the name says, by doing time-based operations. The basic operation is called "delay and sum". It delays the incoming signal from each array element by a certain amount of time, and then adds them together. Sometimes a multiplication with a window across the array is done to increase the mainlobe/sidelobe ratio, and to insert zeroes in the characteristic.

There are two different types of frequency domain beamformers. The first type separates the different frequency components that are present in the received signal into different frequency bins (using either an FFT or a filterbank). When different delay and sum beamformers are applied to each frequency bin, it is possible to point the main lobe to different directions for different frequencies. This can be an advantage for communication links.

The other type of frequency domain beamformers makes use of so called Spatial Frequency. This means that an FFT is taken across the different array elements, not in time. The output of the N point FFT are N channels, which are evenly divided in space. This approach makes a simple implementation of several beamformers at the same time possible, but this approach is not flexible, because the different directions are fixed.



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