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7, 2011


Miniaturized Patch Antennas with Ferrite/Dielectric/Ferrite Magnetodielectric Sandwich Substrate

Guo-Min Yang1 , Ogheneyunume Obi2 , Ming Liu2 , and Nian X. Sun2

Key Laboratory of Wave Scattering and Remote Sensing Information Department of Communication Science and Engineering Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China 2 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Abstract Magneto-dielectric substrates with thin magnetic lms show great potential in
realizing electrically small antennas with enhanced bandwidth, improved directivity, and high eciency. This is the rst time to introduce 10-m thick self-biased NiCo-ferrite lms as a practical means to tune a patch antenna by loading Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite (F/R/F) sandwich structures. The central resonant frequency of the base line patch antenna with composite of Rogers and alumina substrate is 2460 MHz with a bandwidth of 42 MHz. However, with F/R/F loading of the alumina substrate, this frequency is down shifted to 2380 MHz with a greatly improved bandwidth of 74 MHz. In addition, the gain of the magnetic antenna with F/R/F sandwich structure is enhanced by 2.4 dB over the unloaded antenna.


With the continuous growth of wireless communication technologies, design and manufacturing of miniaturized microwave components are among most critical issues in communication systems [1, 2]. In the RF front-end, patch antennas with small size and high performance are highly desirable. Planar device size can be minimized by using a substrate with high relative permittivity. However, antennas with high-permittivity substrates result in decreased bandwidth and the excitation of surface waves, leading to lower radiation eciency and larger element coupling in arrays. It also becomes dicult to achieve impedance matching on high-permittivity substrates, due to large reactance of the coaxial probes used to feed the antenna. Achieving relative permeability larger than 1 (r > 1) in antenna substrates can lead to antenna miniaturization, enhanced bandwidth, tunable center frequency, polarization diversity, and beam steering [35]. Bulk ferrite materials, composites of ferrite particles in polymer matrix, metamaterials with embedded metallic circuits, etc., have been used as antenna substrates for achieving r > 1. However, these bulk ferrite materials or ferrite composites are too lossy to be used at frequencies > 600 MHz under self-bias condition, i.e., no bias magnetic eld is needed, and large biasing magnetic elds are needed for these antennas to operate at higher frequencies. In order to be practically feasible in miniature antenna applications, such as handheld wireless communication devices, where battery power and space for electronics are at a premium, it is important for antenna substrates to be comprised of self-biased magnetic materials, in which no external bias eld is applied. Magnetic thin lms provide a unique opportunity for achieving self-biased magnetic patch antenna substrates with > 1 [68] and operating frequencies > 1 GHz. The strong demagnetization eld for magnetic thin lms, Hdemag = 4Ms , allows for a self-biased magnetization with high ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) frequencies (up to several GHz), a necessary condition for multi-ferrite RF devices to operate in the cellular and WLAN bands. Most recently, we have proposed to use novel magnetoelectric composite substrates for antennas with low-loss magnetic lm materials and low-loss dielectric materials. In our previous work, new designs of electronically tunable patch antennas with magnetic metallic magnetic lms were investigated [9], which showed that the bandwidth was increased by 50% over the non-magnetic antennas. Fielding addition, a new self-biased ferrite lm of NiCo-ferrite was investigated and adopted in our recent research of antenna miniaturization [10, 11]. We have successfully achieved self-biased ring antennas at 1.7 GHz with a wide range of tunable resonant frequency with high quality self-biased ferrite lms [11], which shows great potential in the applications of antenna miniaturization for mobile handheld wireless communication devices.

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In this paper, we report on patch antennas miniaturized by using Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite sandwich structures on the alumina substrate, thus essentially creating a magneto-dielectric substrate for practical applications. The magnetic patch antennas were fabricated by loading the antenna with an F/R/F structure adjacent to the patch. These antennas show an enhanced bandwidth of up to 76% over the base line counterparts at 2.4 GHz, a large central resonant frequency tunability (190% of the 10 dB bandwidth), and a signicantly enhanced gain by 2.4 dB over the non-magnetic antenna.

In this work, we used self-biased spinel NiCo-ferrite lms fabricated by a low-cost spin-spray deposition process [8], a wet chemical synthesis process at a low-temperature of 90 C. NiCo-ferrite lms with the composition of Ni0.23 Co0.13 Fe2.64 O4 were deposited onto both side of the Rogers material. As the surface of the Rogers material is very rough, it is possible to get the ferrite lm with a thickness of 10 m, and this is the rst time to get it. Since the ferrite lms were deposited on both side of the Rogers substrate, the total thickness of the ferrite lm is 20 m. A small sample was used for the characteristics measurement. The in-plane and out-of-plane magnetic hysteresis loops of the NiCo-ferrite lms were measured with a vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM) with the external magnetic eld applied in the lm plane, out of the lm plane, respectively. The in-plane hysteresis loop shows an in-plane coercivity of 165 Oe as well as the self-biased magnetization of the lm under zero applied magnetic elds. There is a huge dierence between the in-plane hysteresis and the out-plane hysteresis, indicating that the magnetization stays in the lm plane under zero bias magnetic eld. The NiCo-ferrite lm showed an in-plane homogeneous magnetization with an in-plane relative permeability of 10. The in-plane resistivity of the NiCo-ferrite lm was measured to be 5.6 103 cm. The geometry of the patch antenna is shown in Fig. 1. It is a conventional microstrip line-fed patch on a 2 2 alumina substrate (r = 9.9) with a thickness of 2 mm. This antenna is fed by an SMA connector mounted at the side of the substrate. The copper patch for this non-magnetic antenna has a length of L2 = 20.0 mm, and a width of W1 = 30.0 mm. The width of the feed-line is 2.0 mm and the length is 20.8 mm. The width of the inset is 2.0 mm and the length is 7.0 mm. The working frequency of the patch antenna without ferrite lm is about 2.46 GHz in this paper, which means our designed antenna can work for the WLAN and Bluetooth bands. To our knowledge, this is the rst time to demonstrate the advantages of NiCo-ferrite lm to work at this frequency band.

The F/R/F sandwich structure was composed of Rogers Duroid6010 material with a very thin thickness of 10 mil. NiCo-ferrite lms were deposited onto both side of Rogers material and the thickness of ferrite lm on each side was about 10 m, thus one could get a Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite (F/R/F) sandwich structure. This sandwich structure has the same surface dimension of 2 2 as the alumna substrate. The side views of the antenna with Rogers material and magnetic antenna with F/R/F sandwich structure are shown in Figs. 2(a) and (b), respectively. The total thickness of sandwich structure (Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite) is about 0.274 mm. The measured reection coecient for the magnetic antenna with sandwich structure is plotted

Figure 1: Geometry of the non-magnetic rectangular patch antenna. L1 = 51 mm, L2 = 20.0 mm, L3 = 13.8 mm, W1 = 30.0 mm and H = 2.0 mm. The dimension of the inset is 7.0 2.0 mm2 .

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Figure 2: (a) Side view of the patch antenna with Rogers material. (b) Side view of patch antenna with Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite sandwich structure loading.

Figure 3: Measured reection coecient of the patch antennas with Rogers material and F/R/F sandwich structures.



Figure 4: (a) Radiation patterns of H-plane. (b) Measured gains against frequency.

in Fig. 3, along with that of the base line patch with Rogers and alumina substrate for comparison. The base line patch antenna (composite Rogers and alumina only) shows a resonant frequency of 2460 MHz, and a 2 : 1 VSWR bandwidth of 42 MHz. When the F/R/F sandwich structure is added above the alumina substrate, the resonance shifts down to 2380 MHz. This indicates a frequency shifting of 80 MHz relative to the non-magnetic substrate, or equivalent to approximately 190% of the bandwidth, relative to the non-magnetic substrate. The antenna bandwidth is 74 MHz with the addition of the F/R/F, an increase of 76% relative to non-magnetic antenna, which is because of the magnetoelectric substrates could provide a higher ratio of relative permeability and relative permittivity than their dielectric counterpart. As shown in Fig. 3, the magnitude of the reection coecient at the resonant frequency is also improved with the ferrite lm. Clearly the F/R/F sandwich loading leads to the enhanced bandwidth and improved impedance matching. The antenna radiation patterns of H-plane and gains were measured in the anechoic chamber. The maximum detected power at the broadside is about 6.19 mW for the non-magnetic patch, which increases to 10.9 mW for the magnetic antennas. The gain comparison technique was used to determine the radiation patterns and gains of the antennas, which were plotted in Figs. 4(a) and (b), respectively. As we have indicated in the rst section, the designed patch lies on the interface between two material half spaces, that is the free space above the patch and the substrate below the patch. The patch antenna acts like a generator that is driving two loads in parallel and the

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power split between the loads is inversely proportional to the ratio of the characteristic impedance. To deliver more power to the free space, the permeability of the substrate could be increased. For the fabricated magnetic patch antenna in this paper, there is a Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite sandwich structure between the rectangular patch and the alumina substrate, thus to improve the eective permeability of the whole substrate at GHz frequencies. As shown in Fig. 4(b), the fabricated magnetic antenna gain is enhanced by 2.4 dB at the central resonant frequency of 2.38 GHz over the non-magnetic antenna at the resonance of 2.46 GHz.

Ferrite/Rogers/Ferrite sandwich structures have been introduced as a practical means to tune a patch antenna by loading a commercially available substrate. Measurements on magnetic patch antennas demonstrate that the central resonant frequency can be varied downward over a tuning of 190% of the antenna bandwidth, which indicates that the self-biased magnetic lms do lead to minimized antennas by shifting down the resonance frequency. The working frequency bandwidth increased of 76% over the non-magnetic antenna, which shows that the designed magnetic antennas have signicantly enhanced bandwidth. Also antennas with magnetodielectric substrates show signicantly improved antenna gains at GHz frequency range.

This work is sponsored by ONR, NSF and Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai under Grant 11ZR1403500. The authors would like to thank Professor A. Farhat for allowing the use of the measurement facility. The authors would also like to thank X. Xing for her technical assistant and helpful discussion.

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