Planar arrays of waveguide-fed slots have been employed in many radar and remote sensing applications. Such arrays are designed in the standing wave configuration because of high efficiency. Traveling wave arrays can produce greater bandwidth at the expense of efficiency due to power loss in the load or loads. Traveling wave planar slot arrays may be designed with a long feed waveguide consisting of centered-inclined coupling slots. The feed waveguide is terminated in a matched load, and the element spacing in the feed waveguide is chosen to produce a beam squinted from the broadside.

The traveling wave planar slot array consists of a long feed waveguide containing resonant-centered inclined coupling slots in the broad wall, coupling power into an array of stacked radiating waveguides orthogonal to it. The radiating waveguides consist of longitudinal offset radiating slots in a standing wave configuration. For the traveling wave feed of a planar slot array, one has to design the tilt angle and length of each coupling slot such that the amplitude and phase of excitation of each radiating waveguide are close to the desired values. The coupling slot spacing is chosen for an appropriate beam squint. Scattering matrix parameters of resonant coupling slots are used in the design process to produce appropriate excitations of radiating waveguides with constraints placed only on amplitudes.

Since the radiating slots in each radiating waveguide are designed to produce a certain total admittance, the scattering (S) matrix of each coupling slot is reduced to a 2×2 matrix. Elements of each 2×2 S-matrix and the amount of coupling into the corresponding radiating waveguide are expressed in terms of the element S11. S matrices are converted into transmission (T) matrices, and the T matrices are multiplied to cascade the coupling slots and waveguide sections, starting from the load end and proceeding towards the source.

While the use of non-resonant coupling slots may provide an additional degree of freedom in the design, resonant coupling slots simplify the design process. The amplitude of the wave going to the load is set at unity. The S11 parameter, r’ of the coupling slot closest to the load, is assigned an arbitrary value. A larger value of r’ will reduce the power dissipated in the load while increasing the reflection coefficient at the input port. It is now possible to obtain the excitation of the radiating waveguide closest to the load and the coefficients of the wave incident and reflected at the input port of this coupling slot. The next coupling slot parameter, r’, is chosen to realize the excitation of that radiating waveguide. One continues this process moving towards the source, until all the coupling slot parameters r’ and hence the S11 parameter of the 4-port coupler, r, are known for each coupling slot. The goal is to produce the desired array aperture distribution in the feed direction. From an interpolation of the computed moment method data for the slot parameters, all the coupling slot tilt angles and lengths are obtained. From the excitations of the radiating waveguides computed from the coupling values, radiating slot parameters may be obtained so as to attain the desired total normalized slot admittances. This process yields the radiating slot parameters, offsets, and lengths. The design is repeated by choosing different values of r’ for the last coupling slot until the percentage of power dissipated in the load and the input reflection coefficient values are satisfactory.

Numerical results computed for the radiation pattern, the tilt angles and lengths of coupling slots, and excitation phases of the radiating waveguides, are presented for an array with uniform amplitude excitation. The design process has been validated using computer simulations. This design procedure is valid for non-uniform amplitude excitations as well.

This work was done by Sembiam Rengarajan 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-48221

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This article first appeared in the October, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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