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SATCOM Electronic Scan Antenna

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Phase 2 of Final rept. 5 Apr-31 Oct 2000

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In this final report is presented the progression of the electronic scan antenna research highlighting the key results and stumbling blocks throughout this SBIR phase II period. The original premise was to use the FLAPS technology, a Malibu Research patent product, and merge it to plasma in order to generate a dynamic phased array antenna. The FLAPS technology consists of generating a reflective surface from dipoles of various lengths placed over a ground plane in an array configuration. The dipoles reflect incident RF energy with a phase shift that is dependent on the dipole configuration in relation to the RF frequency. By generating the dipoles via plasma, the reflective surface thus becomes a dynamically steerable antenna. The major advantage of such an antenna is the hysteresis property of the plasma. The hysteresis enabled such an array antenna to be addressed in a latching technique thus considerably reducing the driver requirements and its complexity. To use plasma as the RF reflective element, its conductive properties within the proposed environment and plasma conditions must be sufficient. The Phase I result of this SBlR demonstrated that plasma could be used as beam steering elements within the FLAPSTM technology. However, what Phase I failed to unveil was twofold 1 Excessive plasma absorption when used as a reflective element and 2 Low plasma conductivity due to low plasma electron density. These findings were later identified in the first stage of the Phase II period. When the expected results were not produced, further investigation both theoretical and experimental revealed the previously mentioned problems. As a result, plasma cannot be used as a reflective element in the proposed environment.

Subject Categories:

  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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