Programme Element: ARTES 5.1
Tender nr.: AO 1-7493
Open from: 08 May 2013
Closes on: 19 Jun 2013
(*) Priority 2 - A request for initiation has been received.
Objective: to design a compact mechanically-steered terminal antenna using a low profile (flat) lens, Beam steering is to be obtained by horizontal x-y translation of the inhomogeneous graded-index lens in front of a stationary feed. Appropriate manufacturing techniques shall be identified to produce the lens.
Targeted Improvements: to develop a new ground mobile terminal antenna for Ka-band with mechanical steerable-beam. The target is to achieve a solution with lower cost than phased arrays while ensuring lower profile compared to usual reflector-based mechanical beam steering solutions.
The next generation of Ka-band satellites will allow a considerable reduction in communications costs while also allowing for smaller mobile terminals. Mobility requires beam steering to maintain the satellite link. The frequency separation between Tx (20 GHz) and Rx (30 GHz) requires the use of broad- or multi-band antennas. Phased arrays allow fast beam pointing and can be quite compact, however the feeding network tends to be complex, impacting on terminal cost, especially for Ka-band. Mechanical steering solutions usually involve reflector antennas. Beam steering performance is good but the assembly is bulkier and requires more maintenance.
The proposed activity is focused on a new approach for fully mechanical beam steering that can compete in terms of cost, compactness and performance. A new low cost and reliable lens-based approach has been previously demonstrated for mechanical beam steering [Costa, et al IEEE T-AP, Vol. 57, No. 10 pt. 1, 2926-2933, 2009]. The mm-wave head and feed remain stationary, the beam steering being achieved by moving a shaped focusing lens in front of the single feed. This avoids fault prone rotary joints or placing the mm-wave front-end in the antenna moving platform. In this solution, a homogeneous lens pivots in elevation and rotates in azimuth to steer the beam, but the feed is, in all cases, at the lens focal point. The alternative of horizontal x-y lens translation for beam scanning avoids lens tilting and thus minimizes the required operation volume.
The tasks for this activity shall include:
- Design a lens for Ka-band and adapt the feed for broadband operation.
- Obtain the adequate inhomogeneous lens profile and study the assembly performance using continuous medium lens.
- Select and evaluate the most appropriate manufacturing technology for producing the graded-index lens.
- Design, build and test a breadboard prototype.
(*) Priority 2 activities will only be initiated on the explicit request of at least one delegation.