Universal Millimeter-Wave Radar Front End

A quasi-optical front end allows any arbitrary polarization to be transmitted by controlling the timing, amplitude, and phase of the two input ports. The front end consists of two independent channels — horizontal and vertical. Each channel has two ports — transmit and receive. The transmit signal is linearly polarized so as to pass through a periodic wire grid. It is then propagated through a ferrite Faraday rotator, which rotates the polarization state 45°. The received signal is propagated through the Faraday rotator in the opposite direction, undergoing a further 45° of polarization rotation due to the nonreciprocal action of the ferrite under magnetic bias. The received signal is now polarized at 90° relative to the transmit signal. This signal is now reflected from the wire grid and propagated to the receive port.

The horizontal and vertical channels are propagated through, or reflected from, another wire grid. This design is an improvement on the state of the art in that any transmit signal polarization can be chosen in whatever sequence desired. Prior systems require switching of the transmit signal from the amplifier, either mechanically or by using high-power millimeter-wave switches. This design can have higher reliability, lower mass, and more flexibility than mechanical switching systems, as well as higher reliability and lower losses than systems using high-power millimeter-wave switches.

This work was done by Raul M. Perez of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-46654

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