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UNIVERISTY OF TECHNOLOGY, IRAQ

DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

A REEARCH ARTICLE

Cantor Fractal-based Printed Slot


Antenna for Dual-band Wireless
Applications
Jawad Ali1, Seevan Abdulkareem1, Ali Hammoodi2, Ali Salim1, Mahmoud Yassen1,
Mohamad Hussan1, and Hussain Al-Rizzo2
1

Microwave Research Group, Department of Electrical Engineering,


University of Technology, Baghdad, Iraq

Systems Engineering Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock,


Little Rock, AR, USA

[This paper has been published in the International Journal of Microwave and Wireless Technologies , 8
December 2014, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1759078714001469 ]
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9456952&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S1759078714001469

Cantor Fractal-based Printed Slot Antenna


for Dual-band Wireless Applications
J. Ali1, S. Abdulkareem1, A. Hammoodi2, A. Salim1, M. Yassen1, M. Hussan1, H. Al-Rizzo2
1

Microwave Research Group, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of


Technology, Assinaa Street, 10001 Baghdad, Iraq.
2

Systems Engineering Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR,
USA

Fractal geometries are attractive for antenna designers seeking antennas with compact size
and multiband resonant behavior. This paper presents the design of a new microstrip fed
printed slot antenna for use in dual-band wireless applications. The slot structure of the
proposed antenna is in the form of Cantor square fractal geometry of the second iteration.
The slot structure has been etched on the ground plane of a substrate with relative
permittivity of 4.4 and 1.6 mm in thickness. A parametric study is conducted to explore the
effects of some geometrical parameters on the antenna performance. Results show that the
antenna possesses a dual band behavior with a wide range of resonant frequency ratio. In
addition to the ease of fabrication and simple design procedure, the antenna offers desirable
radiation characteristics. A prototype of the proposed antenna has been simulated, fabricated
and measured. The measured 10 dB return loss bandwidths for the lower and the upper
resonant bands are 42% (2.353.61 GHz) and 20% (5.156.25 GHz) respectively. This makes
the proposed antenna suitable to cover a number of operating bands of wireless systems (2.4
GHz-Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz ISM, 2.4/5.8 GHz-WLAN, 3.5 GHz-WiMAX, 5.8 GHz-ITS).

Keywords: Antenna Design, Modelling and Measurements

Corresponding author: Jawad K. Ali; email: jawadkali@uotechnology.edu.iq ; phone:


+9647813929312

I.

INTRODUCTION

Many communication services, such as PCS, WiBro, WiMAX, and wireless LAN, have
recently become available below 6 GHz and multiple frequencies have been allocated for the
development of high-speed mobile communication systems. This has triggered research to
design compact and multiband antennas [1]. In this context, microstrip and printed antennas

are promising candidates for this design due to their low profile, low-weight, and ease of
fabrication [2].
On the other hand, various fractal geometries have found their way in antenna design to
produce compact and multiband antennas benefiting from their unique space filling and self
similarity. To provide bandwidth enhancement of the resonant bands, fractal based slot
structures are widely used in the design of multiband printed antennas. Conventional fractal
geometries such as Koch, Cantor, Hilbert, Sierpinski, Minkowski and other fractal curves
have been successfully used to produce dual-band and multiband printed slot antennas for
various wireless applications [3]-[13].
It is worth to note that the applications of fractal geometries in the design of slot printed
antennas can be classified into two categories. In the first, direct application of fractal
geometries has been adopted [3]-[10]. In such a case, the fractal geometries constitute the
whole antenna slot structure. The multiband behavior of such antennas has been extracted
almost directly without the need for any tuning elements or slot shape modification. However,
in the second category, the slot structure is a combination of Euclidian structures, such as
triangle, square, rectangle and other polygons, and fractal geometries superimposed on these
structures, where each line segment is replaced by fractal curve with certain iteration level
[11]-[14]. In this case, the multiband behavior has been achieved using different approaches.
These include the addition of tuning stubs to the feed line and modification of the slot
structures by rotating it around the antenna axis.
In this paper, a compact printed fractal based slot antenna is presented for use in dual-band
wireless applications operating within the frequency range of 16 GHz. The slot structure of
the proposed antenna is in the form of Cantor square fractal geometry of the second iteration.
The antenna is fed with a 50 microstrip line etched on the reverse side of the ground plane.
The proposed antenna reveals a dual-band behavior with a wide separation between the upper
and the lower resonant frequencies, making it suitable for most of the applications available in
these bands. A parametric study carried out on the most effective elements of the antenna
structure reveals that the proposed antenna offers more degrees of freedom to antenna
designers.

II.

THE ANTENNA STRUCTURE

The Cantor square fractal is adopted to create the slot structure of the proposed printed
antenna. The Cantor square fractal is a version of Cantor set made with squares instead of
lines. Here, the generation process involves starting with a square, dividing it into nine
squares, and cutting out all of them except for the corner ones. Figure 1 demonstrates the
generation process of the Cantor square fractal structure up to the third iteration.

Fig. 1. The steps of growth of the proposed Cantor square fractal up to the third iteration.
The fractal structure can be constructed using string rewriting beginning with a cell and
iterating the rules [15]

0 1 0
1 1 1

0 1 1 1,1 1 1 1

0 1 0
1 1 1

(1)

The size of the unit element after the nth iteration is

1
Ln
3

(2)

and the number of elements is given by the recurrence relation

N n 4N n1 5(9) n

(3)

where N1=5, and the first few numbers of elements are 5, 65, 665, 6305, ...[15]. Expanding
out gives
N n 4 n k 9 k 1 9 n 4 n
n

k 0

(4)

The fractal dimension is therefore,

D lim

ln N n
2
n ln L
n

(5)

This means that the square is filled and the slot structure has no longer being with a fractal
shape. It is then, expected that the antenna dual-band resonant response will diminish as the
iteration level becomes higher.

III.

THE ANTENNA DESIGN

Many microstrip fed printed slot antennas with the slot structures corresponding to the Cantor
square fractal geometries of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd iterations depicted in Figs. 1 (a), (b), and (c)
respectively, have been designed and their performance responses have been evaluated in the
swept frequency range of 16 GHz. The slot structures of the modelled antennas are etched on
the ground plane of an FR4 substrate with relative dielectric constant of r =4.4 and height, h
=1.6 mm. For design convenience, the proposed antenna is fed by a 50 microstrip feed line,
printed on the reverse side of dielectric substrate. The microstrip, with a width W f = 3.0 mm,
is placed on the centerline beneath the rectangular slot (y axis) as demonstrated in Fig. 2.
Numerical analysis of the antenna performance is carried out using the commercial Finite
Integration Technique (FIT) based EM simulator, CST Microwave Studio (CST MWS) [16].

Fig. 2. The proposed antenna layout with respect to the coordinate system; (a) top and (b) the
side views.
Simulation results with a slot structure of the first iteration show that only one resonant band
in this frequency range. This, of course, does not prevent the possibility of the existence of
other resonant bands beyond this frequency range. Similarly, the slot structure of the third
iteration makes the antenna resonating at one frequency band. However, the antenna with a
slot structure of the second iteration has been found to offer an interesting dual-band
resonance. This is expected from Equ. 5; as n approaches infinity the dimension of fractal slot
is equal to 2 which means the slot is no longer being with a fractal structure. Consequently,
effort is devoted to investigating the radiation characteristics offered by the antennas with slot
structure based on the second iteration Cantor square fractal as depicted in Fig. 1(c).

Parametric Study
The proposed printed fractal based slot antenna depicted in Fig. 2 has been modeled, and its
performance has been evaluated within the frequency range of 16 GHz using the prescribed

substrate. Simulation results have shown that the antenna offers a dual-band response. The
frequency ratio of the two resonant bands is of considerable importance in order to cover the
different communication services below 6 GHz. In this context, simulation results reveal that
the frequency ratio is influenced by two parameters; the feed line length and the aspect ratio
of the antenna slot structure. A parametric study has been carried out to explore the effects of
these two parameters on the antenna performance. Theoretical results are presented in the
following two subsections.

A)

The effect of feed line length

Figure 3 demonstrates the return loss responses of the dual-band slot antenna depicted in Fig.
2, with the feed line length varying from 21 to 27 mm. For the different feed line lengths, the
antenna offers dual-band return loss responses with interesting features. As the feed line
length is increased, the centers of the lower resonant bands are decreased due to increased
coupling, while the relevant bandwidths are almost maintained constant around 0.75 GHz. On
the other hand, the center of the upper resonant band is almost unchanged while the
corresponding bandwidths decrease. However, below some value of the feed line length, the
upper resonant band starts to diminish.

Fig. 3. Simulated return loss responses of the antenna depicted in Fig. 2, with the feed line
length as parameter.

B)

The effect of the antenna slot aspect ratio

An interesting feature of the proposed antenna design is that it exhibits dual-band return loss
responses with a considerable range of the resonant frequency ratio f2/f1 within the specified
frequency range when varying the aspect ratio of the antenna slot structure. The aspect ratio
of the fractal slot structure is defined as the ratio of slot width Ws to its length Ls. In this
context, the parametric variable is the slot aspect ratio, which appears in Fig. 3 and Table 2,

obtained by only varying the slot width Ws while keeping its length Ls constant. Figure 4
demonstrates the simulated return loss responses of the proposed antenna for selected values
of the aspect ratio in the range of 0.751.5, in steps of 0.25. Table 2 provides the resonant
fractional bandwidths for a wider range of aspect ratios than those depicted in Fig. 4. Figure 4
reveals that, on the contrary of the responses depicted in Fig. 3, that the rate of change of the
lower resonant frequency is small as compared to that of the upper resonant frequency. When
the aspect ratio becomes higher, the upper resonant frequency decreases considerably and
approaches the lower band leading to lower frequency ratios. However, above some value of
the aspect ratio, the two resonant bands are coupled together to form a single broadband
resonance. On the other hand, as the aspect ratio becomes lower, the upper resonant band
shifts further from the lower band leading to a higher frequency ratio.

Fig. 4. Simulated return loss responses of the proposed antenna with the slot aspect ratios
Ws/Ls as a parameter and a feed line length of 23 mm.

However, below some value of the aspect ratio, the lower resonant band starts to diminish. It
is clear from the results depicted in Figs. 3 and 4, and Table 1 that with appropriate
dimensional scaling, the proposed antenna offers a dual-band behavior covering most of the
available wireless services operating at 2.45 GHz and 5.8 GHz.
Finally, Fig. 5 demonstrates the current distribution on the surfaces of the antenna with aspect
ratios corresponding to those modeled in Fig. 3 at the centers of the upper resonant bands. It is
clear that as the aspect ratio is made lower, the corresponding slot structure becomes
narrower; this in turns leads to a shorter effective radiating path. For this, the resonant band
associated with this shorter path length becomes higher.

Table 1. The resulting frequency ratio versus the aspect ratio and the related fractional
resonant bandwidths of the proposed antenna.
Aspect
Ratio

Frequency Ratio

FBW1

FBW2

f2/f1

0.6

2.65

20.96

7.14

0.8

2.61

17.18

17.77

1.1

2.06

37.2

10.42

1.2

1.76

36.29

11.45

1.4

1.44

17.24

15.47

1.6

1.33

7.95

15.06

Fig. 5. Simulated current distributions on the surface of the modelled antenna at the centers of
the upper resonant bands for different value of antenna slot ratio.
In summary, the parametric study can be concluded as; the presented antenna possesses two
propagated modes; the lower resonant mode is approximately determined by the overall slot
size while the upper resonant mode is determined by the first slot size as seen from the
microstrip feed line. In addition, the longer feeding line results in larger current distribution
path in the upper zone around the slot and therefore leading to decrease the lower resonant
frequency.

IV.

NUMERICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS

Several printed fractal-based slot antennas with slot structures as depicted in Figs. 1(b, c, and
d) have been initially designed with the layout as shown in Fig. 2. By appropriate dimensional
scaling, the two resonant bands have to be found within the frequency range of 16 GHz. The
resulting antenna has been found to have a square ground plane with a side length, Lg=Wg, of
50 mm, while the square containing the slot fractal structure has a side length, Ls=Ws, of 33
mm. The 50 microstrip feed line, on the other side of the substrate, has a width, W f, of

about 3.0 mm and length, Lf, of 23 mm. As will be shown in the subsequent sections, a
parametric study has to be carried out to explore the effects of the feed line length and the slot
aspect ratio on the antenna performance.
The conguration of Fig. 2 has been fabricated. Figure 6 shows photographs of the fabricated
prototype of this antenna. Table 2 summarizes the dimensions of the fabricated antenna.
Measured and simulated return-loss responses of the fabricated antenna prototype are depicted
in Fig. 7. As it is implied from Fig. 7, the center of the measured lower resonant band is
slightly right shifted away from the simulated one, while the simulated bandwidth is slightly
narrower. On the other hand, the measured and simulated upper resonant bands are
approximately co-centered ant the corresponding bandwidths are almost equal. In summary,
the simulated and measured results are in reasonable agreement.

Table 2. Summary of the dimensions of the fabricated antenna.


Parameter

Value (mm)

Wg

50

Lg

50

Ws

33

Ls

33

Wf

3.0

Lf

23

1.6

Fig. 6. Photograph of the fabricated prototype of the proposed antenna; (a) the top view and
(b) the bottom view.
The measured 10 dB return loss bandwidths for the lower and the upper resonant bands
depicted in Fig. 7, are of about 42% (2.353.61 GHz) and 20% (5.156.25 GHz) respectively.

This makes the proposed antenna suitable to cover many operating bands (2.4 GHz-Bluetooth,
2.4 GHz ISM, 2.4/5.8 GHz-WLAN, 3.5 GHz-WiMAX, 5.8 GHz-ITS).

Fig. 7. Measured and simulated return loss responses of the fractal based printed slot antenna
depicted in Fig. 6 with feed line length of 23 mm.
As will be shown later, the four small isolated conducting squares contained in the antenna
structure have a slight effect on its performance. However, examining the influence of the
various parameters on the antenna performance, it has been found that the dominant factor in
the antenna is the slot side length Ls in terms of the guided wavelength g:

eff

(6)

where eff is the effective dielectric constant and is given by [17]

eff

r 1 r 1

1 12h w
f

(7)

However, most of the currently available EM simulators provide direct calculation of eff in
terms of the substrate specifications at the design frequency. In the other hand, only the first
term of Equ. 7 has often used by many researchers [18]. In terms of the slot side length Ls and
the guided wavelength g, the lower resonant frequency, f1, is given by:
f1

2 L s eff

(8)

where c is the speed of light in free space, and g has been calculated in terms of the lower
resonant frequency.
Figure 8 shows the measured and simulated electric field radiation pattern at XZ and YZ
planes at 2.45 GHz and 5.8 GHz. Again, the measured radiation patterns are in good
agreement with those theoretically predicted. The results show almost monopole like radiation

patterns with almost omnidirectional pattern. The simulated 3D far field radiation patterns of
proposed antenna have been numerically calculated at 2.45 GHz and 5.80 GHz, for a feed line
length of 23 mm, as shown in Fig. 9.

Fig. 8. Measured (red) and simulated (blue) far field radiation patterns of the proposed
antenna in the YZ and XZ planes at (a). 2.45 GHz and (b). 5.80 GHz.

Fig. 9. Simulated 3D far field radiation patterns of the proposed antenna at: (a). 2.45 GHz and
(b). 5.80 GHz.

Figure 10 demonstrates the peak gain responses throughout the two resonant bands. The
antenna offers a gain that varies in the range of 2.83.5 dB throughout the lower resonant
band, and about 3.74.3 dB throughout the upper band. These values are sufficient for the
operations of the most of the communication services operating within these frequency
ranges.

Fig. 10. Computed peak gains of the proposed antenna throughout: (a) the lower and (b) the
upper resonant bands.
As compared with the related published works, the values of the corresponding gains
throughout the two resonating bands are relatively high and approximately approach each
other. However, this is not the case in most of the related work published in the literatures. In
the majority of these works, the difference between the gain values corresponding to the two
bands is considerably large with either the first band having the lower gain [6],[9],[19]-[22]

and the second band with the higher gain, or vice versa [23]-[24]. Equal gains of the
corresponding bands but lower than those realized in this work have also been reported in [8],
[11].
Furthermore, to provide more physical interpretation about the EM characteristics of the
proposed antenna, the simulated surface current distributions at 2.50 and 5.80 GHz, are shown
in Fig. 11. It is worth to note that there is a slight difference in the color bar scale for the
simulated current distributions at the two frequencies. As the results of Fig. 11 (a) imply, the
resonance at 2.5 GHz is attributed to the larger surface current path as compared with that at
5.8 GHz. However, at both resonant frequencies, the small isolated conducting square
substructures have almost no current flowing on their surfaces. Therefore, it can be said that
the lower resonant frequency has been predominantly determined by the slot structure
perimeter as suggested earlier in the calculation of Equ. 8.

Fig. 11. Simulated current distributions on the surface of the modelled antenna at: (a). 2.50
GHz and (b). 5.80 GHz.

V.

CONCLUSION

A Cantor square fractal based printed slot antenna is introduced for use in dual-band wireless
applications operating at 2.45 GHz and 5.8 GHz. Simulation results of several antenna models
have shown that the proposed antenna structure offers interesting features in the that it can be
a suitable candidate covering almost most of the recently available communication services
operating at the resonant frequency bands. The antenna offers dual-band behavior with
enhanced bandwidths and omnidirectional radiation patterns. A parametric reveals that the
lower resonant mode is approximately determined by the overall slot size while the upper
resonant mode is determined by the first slot size as seen from the microstrip feed line.
Furthermore, the longer feeding line results in a larger current distribution path in the upper
zone around the slot; leading to decrease the lower resonant frequency. Measured and
computed return loss responses of the fabricated prototype have been found in good

agreement. Measured 10 dB return loss bandwidths for the lower and the upper resonant
bands are of about 42% (2.353.61 GHz) and 20% (5.156.25 GHz) respectively. This makes
the proposed antenna suitable to cover many operating bands of the wireless communication
systems (2.4 GHz-Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz ISM, 2.4/5.8 GHz-WLAN, 3.5 GHz-WiMAX, 5.8
GHz-ITS). It is hopeful that the high degree of freedom offered by the proposed antenna
design will make it an attractive choice of the antenna designer.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The authors would like to express their thanks to Dr. Sead Abushmelah form Systems
Engineering Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR, USA, for
his support in performing the required measurements. The authors would also to extend their
thanks to the staff of the Electronics Design Center, especially to Ghaleb N. Najm and
Mahmood R. Muhsen from Ministry of Science and Technology, Iraq, for their support in the
production of the preliminary antenna prototypes. Finally, the authors are grateful for the
precise suggestions of the respected reviewers.

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Bibliographies

Jawad K. Ali was born in Baghdad, Iraq in November of 1956. He received his
B.Sc and M.Sc degrees in 1979 and 1986 respectively from Al-Rasheed College for Science
and Technology, Iraq. From 1989-1991, he joined a PhD study program at the Faculty of
Engineering, Antonin Zapotocky Academy, (VAAZ), Brno, former Czechoslovakia. Since
2010, he has been a professor at the University of Technology, Iraq. Currently, he is the
deputy dean for postgraduate studies and scientific affairs at the Department of Electrical
Engineering. His fields of interests are microwave antenna miniaturization and design, passive
microwave circuits design and FPGA based system design. He has more than 90 published
papers in local and international conferences and peer-reviewed journals. Prof. Ali is a Senior
Member of IEEE and a Member of IET.

Seevan F. Abdulkareem received her B.Sc degree in Electronics and


Communications from University of Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 and the M.Sc degree in
Microwave Engineering from the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of
Technology, Iraq in 2013. From 2008-2011, she was a Lab Assistant at Al-Mansur University
College. Her fields of interests are microwave antenna miniaturization and design.

Ali I. Hammoodi has received his B.Sc degree in Communication Engineering in


2011 from the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Technology, Iraq. After
graduation, he becomes an engineer in the Microwave Engineering Laboratory at the
Department of Electrical Engineering. Currently, he is working towards pursuing his M.Sc

degree from Systems Engineering Department, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little
Rock, AR, USA. He has published many papers in international conferences and journals in
the field of antenna design.

Ali J. Salim was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1975; he received the B. Sc. in
Electrical Engineering and M. Sc. in Communication Engineering in 1999 and 2002 both
from University of Baghdad, Iraq respectively and Ph.D in Communication Engineering from
the University of Technology, Iraq in 2011. He has published many papers in international
conferences and journals in the field of microwave antenna design.

M. Yassen was born in Basrah, Iraq, in 1978. He received the B.Sc. degree in
Communication Engineering from Al-Rasheed College of Science and Technology, Baghdad,
in 2002 and the M.Sc. degree in Communication Engineering from University of Technology,
Iraq, in 2013. Currently, he works in the Communication Branch, Department of Electrical
Engineering, University of Technology, Iraq, as an assistant lecturer. Fields of interests are
microwave antenna and fractal antennas

M. Hussan has received his B.Sc degree in Electrical Engineering in


Communication engineering from Al-Rasheed College of Science and Technology, Baghdad,
in 1996 and the M.Sc. degree in Communication Engineering from University of Technology,
Iraq, in 2013. Currently, he works in the Communication Branch, Department of Electrical
Engineering, University of Technology, Iraq, as an assistant lecturer. Fields of interests are
microwave antennas and fractal antennas

Hussain M. Al-Rizzo received his B.Sc in Electronics and Communications


(1979), Postgraduate Diploma in Electronics and Communications (1981) and M.Sc. in
Microwave Communication Systems (1983) from the University of Mosul, Mosul. In 1987,
he joined the Radiating Systems Research Laboratory, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Department, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada where he obtained his
Ph.D. (1992) in Computational Electromagnetics, Wireless Communications, and the Global
Positioning System. He is currently a Professor of Systems Engineering at the University
Arkansas at Little Rock. Before, he served as a Honorary Research Associate at the
University of New Brunswick, and Senior Research Engineer at EMR Microwave

Technology Corporation, Fredericton, NB, Canada. He has published over 35 journal papers,
70 conference presentations, and two patents. His research areas include implantable and
wearable antennas and associated wireless systems, carbon nanotube-based antennas, design,
modeling and testing of high-power microwave applicators, design and analysis of microstrip
and smart antennas for mobile radio systems.

List of figures and tables


Fig. 1. The steps of growth of the proposed Cantor square fractal up to the third iteration.
Fig. 2. The proposed antenna layout with respect to the coordinate system; (a) top and (b) the
side views.
Fig. 3. Simulated return loss responses of the antenna depicted in Fig. 2, with the feed line
length as parameter.
Fig. 4. Simulated return loss responses of the proposed antenna with the slot aspect ratios
Ws/Ls as a parameter and a feed line length of 23 mm.
Fig. 5. Simulated current distributions on the surface of the modelled antenna at the centers of
the upper resonant bands for different value of antenna slot ratio.
Fig. 6. Photograph of the fabricated prototype of the proposed antenna; (a) the top view and
(b) the bottom view.
Fig. 7. Measured and simulated return loss responses of the fractal based printed slot antenna
depicted in Fig. 6 with feed line length of 23 mm.
Fig. 8. Measured (red) and simulated (blue) far field radiation patterns of the proposed
antenna in the YZ and XZ planes at (a). 2.45 GHz and (b). 5.80 GHz.
Fig. 9. Simulated 3D far field radiation patterns of the proposed antenna at: (a). 2.45 GHz and
(b). 5.80 GHz.
Fig. 10. Computed peak gains of the proposed antenna throughout: (a) the lower and (b) the
upper resonant bands.
Fig. 11. Simulated current distributions on the surface of the modelled antenna at: (a). 2.50
GHz and (b). 5.80 GHz.
Table 1. The resulting frequency ratio versus the aspect ratio and the related fractional
resonant bandwidths of the proposed antenna.
Table 2. Summary of the dimensions of the fabricated antenna.