A novel waveguide multimode directional coupler (MDC) intended for the measurement and potential utilization of the second and higher order harmonic frequencies from high-power traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTAs) has been successfully designed, fabricated, and tested. The design is based on the characteristic multiple propagation modes of the electrical and magnetic field components of electromagnetic waves in a rectangular waveguide.

The purpose was to create a rugged, easily constructed, more efficient waveguide- based MDC for extraction and exploitation of the second harmonic signal from the RF output of high-power TWTs used for space communications. The application would be a satellite-based beacon source needed for Q-band and V/W-band atmospheric propagation studies. The MDC could function as a CW narrow-band source or as a wideband source for study of atmospheric group delay effects on high-data-rate links.

The MDC is fabricated from two sections of waveguide — a primary one for the fundamental frequency and a secondary waveguide for the second harmonic — that are joined together such that the second harmonic higher order modes are selectively coupled via precision- machined slots for propagation in the secondary waveguide.

In the TWTA output waveguide port, both the fundamental and the second harmonic signals are present. These signals propagate in the output waveguide as the dominant and higher order modes, respectively. By including an appropriate mode selective waveguide directional coupler, such as the MDC presented here at the output of the TWTA, the power at the second harmonic can be sampled and amplified to the power level needed for atmospheric propagation studies.

The important conclusions from the preliminary test results for the multimode directional coupler are: (1) the second harmonic (Ka-band) can be measured and effectively separated from the fundamental (Ku-band) with no coupling of the latter, (2) power losses in the fundamental frequency are negligible, and (3) the power level of the extracted second harmonic is sufficient for further amplification to power levels needed for practical applications. It was also demonstrated that third order and potentially higher order harmonics are measurable with this device. The design is frequency agnostic, and with the appropriate choice of waveguides, is easily scaled to higher frequency TWTs. The MDC has the same function but with a number of important advantages over the conventional diplexer.

This work was done by Rainee N. Simons and Edwin G. Wintucky of Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to

NASA Glenn Research Center
Innovative Partnerships Office
Attn: Steven Fedor
Mail Stop 4–8
21000 Brookpark Road
Cleveland
Ohio 44135.

LEW-19045-1


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2013 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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