Tech Briefs

A paper discusses the need to perform accurate dielectric property measurements on larger sized samples, particularly liquids at microwave frequencies. These types of measurements cannot be obtained using conventional cavity perturbation methods, particularly for liquids or powdered or granulated solids that require a surrounding container. To solve this problem, a model has been developed for the resonant frequency and quality factor of a cylindrical

microwave cavity containing concentric cylindrical samples. This model can then be inverted to obtain the real and imaginary dielectric constants of the material of interest.

This approach is based on using exact solutions to Maxwell’s equations for the resonant properties of a cylindrical microwave cavity and also using the effective electrical conductivity of the cavity walls that is estimated from the measured empty cavity quality factor. This new approach calculates the complex resonant frequency and associated electromagnetic fields for a cylindrical microwave cavity with lossy walls that is loaded with concentric, axially aligned, lossy dielectric cylindrical samples. In this approach, the calculated complex resonant frequency, consisting of real and imaginary parts, is related to the experimentally measured quantities.

Because this approach uses Maxwell’s equations to determine the perturbed electromagnetic fields in the cavity with the material(s) inserted, one can calculate the expected wall losses using the fields for the loaded cavity rather than just depending on the value of the fields obtained from the empty cavity quality factor. These additional calculations provide a more accurate determination of the complex dielectric constant of the material being studied. The improved approach will be particularly important when working with larger samples or samples with larger dielectric constants that will further perturb the cavity electromagnetic fields. Also, this approach enables the ability to have a larger sample of interest, such as a liquid or powdered or granulated solid, inside a cylindrical container.

This work was done by Martin B. Barmatz of Caltech and Henry W. Jackson for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Information Sciences category.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

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Refer to NPO-47163, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

Technique for Performing Dielectric Property Measurements at Microwave Frequencies (reference NPO-47163) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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