Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.E.E.

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Thomas M. Weller, Ph.D.

Keywords

BST, Focused ion beam milling, End point detection, End point monitor, EPD, Thin-film, Ferroelectric, Paraelectric, Tunable, Frequency agile, Frequency adaptive, Non-linear, Microstrip, Broadband, Varactor

Abstract

Patch antennas are fundamental elements in many microwave communications systems. However, patch antennas receive/transmit signals over a very narrow bandwidth (typically a maximum of 3% bandwidth). Design modifications directed toward bandwidth expansion generally yield 10% to 40% bandwidth. The series varactor tuned patch antenna configuration was the bandwidth enhancement method explored in this research; this configuration is implemented by dividing a patch antenna into multiple sections and placing varactors across the resultant gaps. In addition to yielding a large bandwidth, the configuration has a number of ancillary benefits, including straightforward integration and design flexibility. Through the research represented by this work, the properties of the series varactor tuned patch antenna, herein referred to as the Fragmented Patch Antenna (or FPA), were explored and optimized.

As a result, an innovative patch antenna was produced that yielded 63.4% frequency tuning bandwidth and covered a frequency range between 2.8 and 5.4 GHz. The wide bandwidth was achieved through a detailed parametric study. The products of this study were the discovery of multiple tuning resonances that were used to expand the tuning bandwidth and the understanding/documentation of the significance of specific antenna dimensions. Measurement results were obtained through the fabrication of a prototype antenna using semiconductor varactors. In the second research phase, the construction of capacitors using the tunable permittivity material Barium Strontium Titanate (BST) was investigated. Using this material in conjunction with nano-fabrication techniques, varactors were developed that had good estimated performance characteristics and were considered appropriate for integration into adaptive microwave circuitry, such as the tunable antenna system.

The varactors were constructed by using Focused Ion Beam (FIB) milling to create a nano-scale capacitive gap in a transmission line. A combination of end-point current detection (EPD) and cross-section scanning electron (SEM) and ion beam (FIB) microscope images were used to optimize the milling procedure. The future extensions of this work include the integration of the BST varactors with the antenna design; the configuration of the developed BST varactors lends itself to a straightforward integration with the FPA antenna.

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