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Design of a Dual-Polarized X-Band Antenna Sub-

Array for SAR applications

Ohnmar Kyaw, Lye Heng Chua, Yeow-Beng Gan Neelakantam Venkatarayalu

CSG-Innovation Center School of Physical Sciences and Engineering
ST Electronics (SatComS) Singapore Institute of Technology
Singapore Singapore

Abstract— An antenna sub-array configuration and the design 30mm

of the antenna element for a dual-polarized X-band SAR
application are presented. The antenna element is based on an
aperture-coupled stacked patch that, unlike typical designs, does
not include any foam layers. The sub-array including the antenna

elements and the feed-network can be realized using currently
available multi-layered printed circuit board fabrication

Index Terms—Stacked patch antenna, Sub-array, Dual- i. Top View


Since the launch of SIR-C/X-SAR in 1994, space-borne
polarimetric SAR with quadrature-polarimetric (quad-pol) or
dual-polarimetric (dual-pol) modes of operations has captured
great interest and enabled a wide range of remote sensing
applications [1]. In this paper, we present the design of a dual-
ii. Bottom View showing asymmetric stripline to
polarized active antenna sub-array and T/R modules that can be microstrip line transition)
used in a full-polarimetric X-band SAR system. The array
element is based on an aperture-coupled stacked patch (a) Unit cell with 2 array elements
operating at 9.65GHz. Aperture-coupled stacked patch Layer 1

antennas had been used in several SAR applications [2]-[4]. 5880 [20]
Layer 2
The unique feature in our proposed array element design is the 2929 [4]

broad bandwidth that is achieved without using foam layer, and Layer 3 Parasitic Patch
5880 [30]
its realization using existing multilayer printed circuit board Layer 4
(PCB) fabrication process. Further, the feed network for each 2929 [4]
Layer 5 Active Patch
sub-array is implemented with an optimal number of layers in a 5880 [20]

single multilayered PCB. The entire array will be made up of Layer 6

2929 [4]
modular tiles, which facilitates a scalable design if a larger Layer 7
5880 [5] Antenna Ground
array aperture is desired for the SAR system [5]. The array Layer 8
2929 [4]

element design, the feed network for each sub-array with 1×16
Layer 9 Asymmetric
s-via Stripline
5880 [20] g-via1
elements and the corresponding T/R module architecture will Layer 10
Feed Line Ground
be discussed. 2929 [4]
Layer 11 Feed Line Ground
5880 [10]
Layer 12 CPWG

The array element is based on aperture-coupled (b) 12 Layered PCB stack-up

stacked square patch. Each radiating element has 2 ports
to provide dual linear (orthogonal) polarizations. The Fig. 1. Geometry of aperture-coupled stacked patch antenna with 2-way
sidelength of the square patch is 15mm, which reactive power divider and its realization using multi-layered PCB
fabrication technique.
corresponds to λ0/2 at 10GHz.

978-1-4673-7297-8/15/$31.00 2015
c IEEE 139
A parasitic patch is added to the top surface of the
superstrate to increase the impedance bandwidth, and is
covered by another substrate on top. Further, an offset-
slot feed to obtain higher bandwidth [3] and the feed
lines for both polarizations are located on the same
substrate layer. In the current design, broad bandwidth is
achieved without using foam layer, typically used in such
antenna design [4]. The parasitic patch is printed on the
bottom surface of the top-most substrate. Thus the top
substrate serves as a radome for the array. The array is
designed for an elevation (across-track) scan of ±20° and
an azimuth (along-track) scan of ±1°. The limited scan
range in azimuth and wide scan range in elevation leads
to a sub-array of 1×16 elements with dimensions of (a) Vertical Polarization
240mm×15mm. Each tile of dimensions 240mm ×
120mm contains 8 such linear sub-arrays aligned
vertically, and is realized as a multilayered PCB, based
on low loss Rogers Duroid 5880 substrate as core and
Rogers 2929 bondply as the pre-preg. The design takes
into account existing limitations and capabilities of
multilayer printed circuit board fabrication processes for
signal and ground vias required in the 16-way corporate
feed network. A 12-layered PCB configuration with
standard thickness for substrate and bondply is adopted.
The feedline for each of the patch element is based on an
asymmetric stripline which provides efficient aperture
coupling to the radiating patch. H-shaped slots (one for
each polarization) are used in the ground plane for wide- (b) Horizontal Polarization
band aperture coupling. Individual array element is
designed to be matched to an impedance of 100Ω. This
enables the first level of the feed network, i.e., the
combining of 2 adjacent elements in the asymmetric
stripline layer, to be matched to 50Ω. After the first level
of combining in the asymmetric stripline, subsequent
feed network is realized in a lower layer as a coplanar
waveguide. The transition from coplanar waveguide to
the inner asymmetric stripline is realized using a blind-
via (signal-via) with additional horse-shoe shaped ground
vias. The geometry of two adjacent unit elements and the
2-way reactive power divider and via transition is shown
in Figure 1a. The 12-layered PCB stack-up and the (c) Isolation between Horizontal and Vertical
corresponding copper layers are shown in the Figure 1b. Polarization
A unit-cell with two array elements and two 2-way
Fig. 2. Simulated active 2-port s-parameters of the dual-polarized unit
reactive power dividers (one for each polarization) is element in an infinite array.
simulated in an infinite array environment using periodic
boundary conditions. Thus the unit-cell has 2 ports, one
for each polarization. The active reflection coefficient for -25dB over the band of interest.
both polarizations across the elevation scan range of ±20° The realized gain pattern for a uniformly-fed array of
is shown in Figure 2. In Figure 2c, it is observed that the 4×2 tiles, i.e., 32×2 sub-arrays or 32x32 elements,
isolation between the two ports is better than obtained using pattern multiplication is shown in Figure

140 2015 IEEE 5th Asia-Pacific Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar(APSAR)

3. The pattern for co-polarization and cross-polarization III. T/R MODULE DESIGN
in the elevation plane at different scan angles for both Each sub-array has a T/R Module to support both
horizontal and vertical polarization excitations are polarizations. The main components of the T/R module
shown. For this case of 32×32 elements, the realized gain are a medium power PA, an LNA, a polarization switch,
is about 34dBi and the cross-polarization isolation is a T/R-switch, a phase shifter and a variable gain
about 18dB across the range of elevation scan angles. amplifier (VGA). The functional block diagram of the
The 16-elements in each sub-array are fed by two T/R-module is shown in Figure 4 and follows closely the
corporate feed networks, one for each polarization. The architecture of TerraSAR-X [6, 7]. The phase shifter and
selection of the desired polarization for transmission and the VGA are common in the transmit and receive paths,
reception will be determined by the T/R modules based selectable using two SPDT switches. In the transmit
on the mode of SAR imaging. It is ensured, as part of the mode, the SPDT switches route the signal from the TX
design, that the feedlines for both the polarizations input port to PA, then T/R switch and polarization switch
maintain good amplitude and phase balance. The route the signal to the sub-array. In the receive mode,
coplanar waveguide has inherently lower losses and signals from the sub-array are routed to LNA and then to
provides advantage of wider line-widths for higher RX output port. A diode limiter is placed at the receiver
impedances than that of a microstrip line. front-end to protect the LNA from high power signals
incident at its input. To maximise the isolation between
transmit and receive path, T/R switch with high isolation
will be used. The DC-bias supply for the PA and LNA
will be alternately switched, between transmit and
receive periods. This will reduce the DC power
consumption of the module. The T/R module includes a
directional coupler to enable calibration of both transmit
and receive paths, inclusive of the T/R module [7].
The T/R module shown in the Figure 4 will be
realized using COTS components and microwave
fabrication process on high-frequency PTFE based
multilayer substrates with interconnect-via transitions.
The layout of the module is characterized and the
performance of complete system is analyzed using circuit
and full-wave electromagnetic co-simulation techniques.
(a) Vertical Polarization Simulation results show that an output power of 2.2W
and a noise figure of 4.9dB are achievable with the
proposed design.

(b) Horizontal Polarization

Fig. 3. Realized Gain (Co-pol: Solid line and Cross-pol: Dashed line) in the
elevation plane for a 32x32 element array based on pattern Fig. 4. Functional block diagram of T/R Module.

2015 IEEE 5th Asia-Pacific Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar(APSAR) 141

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142 2015 IEEE 5th Asia-Pacific Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar(APSAR)