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Radio Science
RESEARCH ARTICLE Design of a stacked loops antenna array to produce
10.1002/2013RS005322
dual circularly polarized and multibeam radiations
Key Points: Shih-Chung Tuan1, Hsi-Tseng Chou2, and Cheng-Yi Chang2
The design of an antenna array
utilizing stacked multiloop structures 1
Department of Communication Engineering, Oriental Institute of Technology, New Taipei, Taiwan, 2Department of
Radiation with dual circular polariza-
tions and three-directional beams Communication Engineering, Yuan Ze University, Taoyuan County, Taiwan
Provide the dual polarization and
angular beam diversities
Abstract This paper presents the design of an antenna array utilizing stacked multiloop structures to
produce the electromagnetic radiations with dual circular polarizations and multiple directional beams. In
particular, with a proper design of isolations, each combination of these polarizations and beams can be
Correspondence to:
S.-C. Tuan, operated in a relatively independent fashion to increase the system capacity by using a single antenna
t1200475@ms32.hinet.net set. The antenna structure was validated by numerical simulations and experimental measurements, which
are presented to exhibit the characteristics of radiation.
Citation:
Tuan, S.-C., H.-T. Chou, and C.-Y. Chang
(2014), Design of a stacked loops
antenna array to produce dual circularly 1. Introduction
polarized and multibeam radiations,
Radio Sci., 49, 351360, doi:10.1002/ The development of antenna technologies to enhance the capacity of communication system is increasingly
2013RS005322. important because of the limited available frequency bandwidths. The current trend is to fully explore the
potentials of diversities [Winters et al., 1994; Goddard and Cherry, 1984] in a way that the system capacity can
Received 1 NOV 2013
be increased by using the same set of frequencies. The well-known MIMO (multiple inputs and multiple
Accepted 29 APR 2014
Accepted article online 5 MAY 2014 outputs) [Gesbert, 2003] technologies appear to a successful one that utilizes the space diversity [Goldhirsh,
Published online 23 MAY 2014 1982] of antennas at both the transmitting and receiving sides. The transmitting and receiving signals are
uncorrelated to increase the system capacity.
Based on this logic, similar scenarios have been developed and attempted to extend the applicable scopes of
communication enhancement with increased capacity. Two potential candidates are the polarization
and angular beam diversities, where dual polarizations and multiple beams are created. The application
scenario is described as follows: When the antenna is properly designed with low cross-polarization level
of radiation, the two orthogonal polarizations (either the two linear polarizations or the two circular
polarizations) can be used independently to double the system capacity. Similarly, the angular beam diversity
can be possibly used when the far eld patterns of antenna radiation are properly formed; the orthogonal
property of beams will exist as described in the conventional MIMO technology. For example, the beam peak
points to the direction near either the null directions of the other beams or the directions with very low
sidelobe levels. When these beam patterns are properly overlapped, the orthogonality between beams can
be possible to provide a class of applications. It noted that the applications of switching beams can be viewed
as a format of angular beam diversity.
A successful application of both polarization and angular beam diversities to increase the system capacity is
the application of digital television (DTV) signal receptions from multiple satellites [Sakakibara et al., 1999;
Arapoglou et al., 2010]. The antenna system based on reector antenna congurations produces several
beams pointing to different directions of satellites [Ng Mou Kehn and Shafai, 2009]. Both polarizations are
utilized to receive signals from different channels of communications and double the signal capacity. The
implementation of conventional reector antennas is relatively simple by using several feeds offset with
different distances from the focus point of the reector, each beam per feed. Each feed, realized by the
horn antennas with waveguides as the input ports, produces radiations with two polarizations excited by
two independent orthogonal ports feeding the waveguides. These two ports can then be operated
independently to increase the capacity. However, the reality is that they have to use different antennas
(different feeds in this case to feed the reector as a reecting structure) to produce multiple beams.
Similar efforts have been attempted in the design of phase array antenna because of their possibility of
keeping low proles. A typical effort is shown by Guinvarch and Haupt [2010], where an array of spiral
antennas are designed for dual polarization operations. In this work, the dual polarization radiations are

TUAN ET AL. 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. 351
Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

created from two subgroups of interleaved array elements selected from the original array according a
selection criterion or optimization algorithm. The antenna elements of each subgroup are designed to
radiate electromagnetic elds of one polarization. This strategy also uses two different types of antennas,
one per polarization. As a result, the antenna design will become sophisticated because of the complicated
beam forming networks. It also has disadvantages of increasing the physical size of antenna array and
may result in irregularly high grating or sidelobe levels, since the interelement spacing will be larger than a
half wavelength.
In this paper, we attempt to develop an antenna structure that may simultaneously provide the dual
polarization and angular beam diversities of multiple directional beams by using a single-antenna set. The
application scenario can be the point-to-multipoint communications such as using a single antenna for
multiple-satellite DTV receptions [Sakakibara et al., 1999; Arapoglou et al., 2010]. It can be also used for the
switching beam applications.
To demonstrate the concept, we present the design of a 2 4 antenna array to produce a radiation with
dual circular polarizations and three-directional beams, whose combinations will provide six modes of
independent operations. For simplication of antenna prototyping and performance measurements, we
consider a frequency band at 2.45 GHz, which is popularly used in wireless communications. This frequency
is sufciently low and may reduce unexpected errors during the prototyping. Both antenna structure
and characteristic examination are presented to validate the design concept in the following sections.
Furthermore, the applications of multibeams and switching beams are both examined in terms of numerical
simulations and experimental measurements. This paper is presented in the following format: Section 2
describes the antenna design. Results obtained by numerical simulation and experimental measurement are
presented in section 3. A short conclusion is given in section 4.

2. Antenna Design
The design example considers eight antenna elements to form a fundamental 2 4 antenna array as shown
in Figure 1, which further forms two subgroups to demonstrate the design concept. The commercial software
HFSS developed by Ansoft was employed to design the antenna. The frequency band is at 2.42.5 GHz,
with the wavelength by = 120 ~ 25 mm. The period of the array elements is selected by approximately
/ 2 or 60 mm to avoid the occurrence of grating lobes. This array is accommodated within a space of
240 120 30 mm3 over an FR4 dielectric substrate of 1 mm in thickness. The top surface of FR4 substrate
is a ground plane. The feeding networks are designed under this substrate to reduce their radiations and
coupling with the antenna elements. The goal is to design the antenna array to provide a radiation with
simultaneously existing three-directional beams and dual circular polarizations (both right- and left-handed
circular polarizations, (RHCP and LHCP, respectively)). Thus, the design will provide six combinations (each
combination is referred as an operational mode, hereafter) of radiations that will exist simultaneously to
provide independent operations of six ports.
2.1. Description of the Elemental Antenna Structure
The elemental antenna consists of seven stacked metal loop wires [Harrington and Mautz, 1968; An and Smith,
1982] with an equal vertical interval, h, as illustrated by the 06 indexed wires in Figure 2. In this case,
h = 1 mm, and the diameter of wires is 0.5 mm. The 0 wire is not excited and serves as a coupling wire to
provide equal coupling effects for the other wires. This wire has an effect of enhancing the gains of
antenna radiation by 1.52 dB from our numerical simulation experience. The other six wires are used to
excite the six modes of operations with each excited independently per mode. These loop wires are
horizontally oriented and are placed at approximately / 4 above the ground plane, because the horizontal
current ow on the loop wires will result in an image current with an opposite sign in the strength. A / 4
separation distance will create an equivalent separation distance of / 2 between the real loop and the
imaged one and thus results in a positive contribution to the antenna radiation in the boresite direction. The
actual value is determined by numerical simulation. The radius of these loops have an identical value, which
is adjusted to provide a good behavior of reection coefcients and directional radiations pointing
upward. Using the criterion of a helix antenna design to produce an axial mode radiation in Kraus [1949] and
Vaughan and Andersen [1985], the length of wires is approximately between 3 / 4 and 4 / 3. In this case,
the diameter of loop is selected as 43.5 mm and makes the length of wires by 136.59 mm. The design

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Figure 1. Illustration of a phased array antenna for dual circular polarizations and three-directional beams. Two subgroups
are formed to demonstrate the design procedure.

procedure can be found in Balanis [2005]. The details of design and the characteristics of helical beam
antennas are referred to Kraus [1949, 1977], Kraus and Williamson [1948], and Storer [1956] and will not be
repeated for brevity.
Starting from the feeding for a RHCP at wire 1 (or the rst mode), the excitations for RHCP and LHCP are
fed alternatively from wire 1 to 6 (i.e., modes 16). Each pair of loop wires, consisting of RHCP and LHCP
modes, will be used as the equivalent antenna element for a directional beam. Thus, three pairs can be
used to produce three-directional beams with dual circular polarizations as mentioned in section 1 and in
the assignment of six modes in Table 1. Each mode will be in charge of providing the radiation of a
particular directional beam with a polarization. The RHCP and LHCP radiations may coexist for a particular
directional beam with respect to two different ports. These six modes may be operated simultaneously
and independently when their corresponding components of cross polarization are sufciently low. The
gap widths, gi(i = 1 ~ 6), between adjacent vertical feeding wire segments as shown in Figure 2 are
0.5 mm, while the vertical lengths of the feeding wire segments, hi(i = 0 ~ 6), are 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, and
23 mm, respectively.
The excitation of circularly polarized radiation considers the current owing direction along the loop wire. In
particular, one end of the wire loop is excited, while the other end remains open. Figure 3 shows the
different wire structures exciting the circularly polarized radiations, in which the structures to excite both
LHCP and RHCP are shown. Due to the limited space, these structures do not have sufcient lengths for
current ows to radiate elds with good circular polarizations in comparison with the conventional helix

Figure 2. The elemental antenna structure, where gi(i = 1 ~ 6) = 0.5 mm, h = 1 mm, and hi(i = 0 ~ 6), are 29, 28, 27, 26,
25, 24, and 23 mm, respectively.

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Table 1. The Array Excitation Phases (Unit: Degrees)


Mode 1 2 3 4 5 6

0 30 30
Polarization RHCP LHCP RHCP LHCP RHCP LHCP
Port 1 165.4 165.8 103.5 125.4 51.5 21.9
Port 2 91.1 92.2 116.1 66.4 151.6 39.1
Port 3 13.2 9.2 162.8 170.0 30.7 48.9
Port 4 100.2 96.3 41.6 148.7 57.4 127.2
Port 5 168.2 170.6 38.1 55.8 177.8 165.8
Port 6 81.5 83.4 38.5 131.3 27.5 146.7
Port 7 18.3 14.4 62.1 31.4 96.5 121.7
Port 8 88.3 89.3 132.2 33.2 107.5 65.9

antenna in its axial mode. A compensation of radiation to cancel their cross-polarized components is
described in the following subsection illustrating the radiations of LHCP and RHCP elds.
2.2. Arrangement of Antenna Orientation for Circular Polarization Improvement
To improve the axial ratio (AR) or reduce the cross-polarized component of radiation, every four adjacent
antenna elements were selected to form a subgroup as illustrated in Figure 1. A sequential rotation approach
[Hall et al., 1989; Kraft, 1996] has been applied to rotate the orientations of each element by 90 with
respect to the corresponding adjacent element. This sequential rotation approach improves the AR for both
the cases of RHCP and LHCP without the needs to specially consider their polarization orientations, where
both cases will be operated simultaneously in our antenna design. This assurance can be observed from their
relative angular shifts in the clockwise and counterclockwise directions for LHCP and RHCP, respectively.
2.3. Antenna Feeding Network
The antenna feeding networks are designed in an independent fashion for each mode of operation. Thus,
six feeding networks are designed independently and are operated simultaneously. The coexistence of
these feeding networks can be realized by using the low-temperature cored ceramics technology [Carchon
et al., 2000; Uhlig et al., 2005] and will be reported in the future phase of this work. For brevity, only the
separated feeding networks for modes 13 are shown in Figures 4a4c, respectively, where Figures 4a and 4b
show the feeding networks for the antenna radiations with RHCP and LHCP, respectively, in the boresite
direction ( = 0), while Figure 4c shows that for RHCP of an offset beam pointing to = 30.
In the design of each feeding network, Wilkinsons equal power dividers [Wilkinson, 1960; Carchon et al., 2000]
are used to assure an equal power division for the eight ports to feed the array elements. The required
phases of each elements excitations are obtained by the conjugated eld matching technique [Ling et al.,
1986] at the beam directions, which automatically includes the 90 phase difference between each pair of
angularly adjacent elements [Teshirogi et al., 1985]. These phases are created by using different lengths of
transmission lines. This technique is applied for the feeding network of each mode individually, where the
phases are shown in Table 1 for the entire six modes. In particular, ports 14 and 58 are associated with the
two different subgroups in Figure 1. Based on these simulated phases in Table 1, the feeding networks in
Figure 4 were designed. The required phases are implemented by varying the lengths of transmission lines

Figure 3. Excitations of circularly polarized radiation. The current owing directions are also shown.

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Figure 4. Feeding networks. (a and b) The in-phase feeding networks for LHCP and RHCP, respectively, and (c) the feeding
network for LHCP of an offset directional beam. (Figure 4a) Mode 1, (Figure 4b) mode 2, and (Figure 4c) mode 3.

beyond the third stage of Wilkinsons equal power dividers. This structure of feeding network relatively
simplies the overall efforts, because the RF circuits prior to the third stage of Wilkinsons power dividers can
be identical for all modes. This design strategy will assure an equal power division and a phase reference for
all ports because of the symmetry of the structure. In our simulation of design, the errors in the phases
created by the feeding networks are less than 2 and can be ignored. The measurement results over the
prototype show similar errors and verify the validity of phase error ignorance.

3. Simulation and Experimental Results


3.1. Results of Numerical Simulations
Numerical simulations using HFSS have been performed. Table 2 summarizes the antenna performances
using the ideal excitation phases in Table 1. The simulations were performed on a personal computer with a

Table 2. Radiation Performance Obtained by Using Ideal Excitation Phases in the Numerical Simulation
Mode 1 2 3 4 5 6

Gain (dB) 10.73 11.28 11.62 11.36 11.11 10.61


Efciency (%) 98.8 98.3 97.5 95.7 91.6 94.3
S11 (dB) 6.59 9.14 8.31 11.25 11.50 16.67
AR (dB) 1.77 1.57 1.42 1.87 3.72 2.25

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Table 3. Radiation Performance Obtained by Using Feeding Networks in Figure 3 in the Numerical Simulation
Mode 1 2 3 4 5 6

Gain (dB) 6.54 7.50 7.34 7.94 6.59 6.6


Efciency (%) 42.2 45 40.1 45.7 37.1 43.5
S11 (dB) 18.01 22.73 13.76 15.39 14.07 14.90
AR (dB) 0.34 0.61 2.54 1.66 3.61 1.37

dual-core AMD 2.2 GHz CPU and 16 Gb RAM, which requires 2 h to complete the simulation of eight antenna
elements with a single input port. The reection coefcients shown in Table 2 are selected from the eight
ports to provide a rough idea for brevity without losing the generality. It is rst observed that the overall
energy efciency is better than 90%. It drops for the modes with wires located at the lower part of the stacked
structure, which can be explained by the reduction of separation distance between the wire loop and the
ground plane to become less than / 4. The axial ratios are less than mostly 2 dB and exhibit good
characteristics in the radiation. The gains in this case are high than 10.73 dB. Table 3 shows the radiation
performances of the array when the feeding networks are integrated into the simulation. It is observed that
the efciencies drop by roughly 4050%, which is caused by the energy loss in the feeding networks
implemented by a FR4 substrate (23 dB in our examination). However, the reection coefcients and axial
ratios are generally improved in most of the cases. The radiation patterns for RHCP components of modes 1,
3, and 5 at 2.45 GHz are shown in Figure 5. The cross-polarization levels can be observed from the axial ratios
summarized in Tables 2 and 3 and will not be repeated for brevity. However, it can be observed from the
overlapped patterns in Figure 5 that the peaks of the offset beams are located in the vicinity of rst null
region of the boresite beam. It validates the design concept of multibeam operations, which can be used for
point-to-multipoint communications. Also, the peaks of these two offset beams are located in the sidelobe
regions of each other. Thus, the control of sidelobe levels is very important in this application. One may
further employ an optimization technique to synthesize the radiation patterns to produce null elds in the
beam directions. It will be investigated in the future phase and does not affect the design philosophy
presented in this work to realize the antenna structure.

3.2. Results of Experimental Measurements


Experimental measurements have been performed to validate the antenna design. The measurements
were performed in a 3-D far-eld range (AMS-8500 3-D antenna measurement system by ETS-Lindgren)
[ETS-Lindgren, 2013] with a valid frequency range of 0.76 GHz band and size of 7.32 3.66 3.66 m3, which
satises the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) Over-the-Air (OTA) test standard. The
prototype of the antenna array is shown in Figure 6a with an element shown in Figure 6b, where the loop

Figure 5. The overlapped radiation patterns of the three-directional beams. Only the RHCP components (modes 1, 3, and 5)
are presented. The radiation patterns of the other three modes appear similar phenomena and are not shown for brevity.

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Figure 6. The prototypes of array, elemental antenna, and feeding network. (a) The phased array, (b) array element, and (c)
feeding network of mode 1.

wires are xed on a Styrofoam material. The prototype of feeding network for mode 1 is shown in Figure 6c.
For brevity, we show the results of mode 1 operation and, in addition, also attempt to investigate the
characteristics of radiation when a beam is offset for the applications of switching beams. Thus, a feeding
network for an offset beam pointing to 10 was also prototyped, which was fed to mode 4 and radiates LHCP
elds. The results of the other modes have similar characteristics and will not be repeated for brevity. Figure 7

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Figure 7. Reection coefcients for mode 1 and the offset beam.

shows the reection coefcients of array in these two cases. It can be observed that the valid frequency band
is within the desired band of 2.42.5 GHz. At 2.45 GHz, the reection coefcients are 13.41 and 13.45 dB,
respectively. Also, the radiation characteristics are shown in Figure 8 for these two cases, where the peak
gains, radiation efciencies, and axial ratio are shown. In particular, at mode 1, the results agree with those
shown in Table 3 with slightly higher gains. The measured transmission coefcients (S21) for the output ports
of feeding beam forming networks used to create the boresite and offset beams, with the port order as
labeled in Figure 2, are shown in Table 4 for reference, which are roughly 11.211.6 dB and representing
2.22.6 dB power loss in the beam forming network. This agrees with the simulation results. Thus, the
efciency will be between 40 and 50% as expected in the numerical simulation. Also, when the beam
direction is offset from the antenna boresite, the radiation characteristics are not signicantly affected as one
has observed in Figures 7 and 8.
Finally, the radiation patterns are shown in Figure 9 for these cases. In Figure 9a, the radiation patterns
obtained by the simulation and experiment for the offset beam are shown as a comparison. The main beam is
accurate as expected, while the sidelobes have some increases on the sidelobe levels. These increases can
be caused by the handmade prototyping in our experiments, and in theory, they may be improved by
imposing an amplitude taper. The beam overlapping is shown in Figure 9b for the offset and boresite

Figure 8. Measured radiation characteristics of the antenna array at mode 1 and offset beam.

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Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

Table 4. The Transmission Coefcients Between the Input Port (Port 0) and the Output Ports Labeled in Figure 4b (Unit:
dB and Degrees for the Amplitude Phase, Respectively)
Port Port 1 Port 2 Port 3 Port 4 Port 5 Port 6 Port 7 Port 8

Boresite beam S0j Amplitude 11.85 11.11 11.18 11.46 11.31 11.142 10.90 11.27
Phase 35.51 132.1 135.55 42.22 27.59 138.5 131.05 60.34
Offset beam S0j Amplitude 11.49 11.52 11.14 11.34 11.60 11.4 11.29 11.01
Phase 12.87 115.63 161.0 77.05 69.48 59.02 149.17 152.54

Figure 9. The radiation patterns of the two cases at 2.45 GHz: = 0, where (a) pattern comparison between simulation
and measurement, (b) illustration of beam separation using measured patterns, and (c) the prototype of feeding network
for the offset beam. (Figure 9a) Pattern comparison, (Figure 9b) demonstration of beam separation based on measured
data, and (Figure 9c) prototype of feeding network and the dimensions for the offset beam (unit: mm).

TUAN ET AL. 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. 359
Radio Science 10.1002/2013RS005322

radiation beams for reference, where a roughly 10 beam separation is observed as interested in
the examination. The prototype of feeding network for the offset beam is shown in Figure 9c for the
reference purpose.

4. Conclusion
This paper presents an effective antenna design for the operations of dual circular polarization and
multibeam radiations. The design is demonstrated and validated at 2.45 GHz band for six operation modes
in the combinations of two polarizations and three-directional beams. The proposed structure allows
the feeding of antenna elements and their subsequently beam-forming networks to be designed and
implemented independently and provides the exibility of system operation. Both numerical simulations and
experimental measurements have been performed and presented to exhibit the radiation characteristics.

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