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Plasma antenna represents a completely new technology that used plasma elements instead of
metal .This report presents some of the experimental and theoretical results achieved in the
plasma antenna research developed in our laboratories; in particular we developed a self-
consistent model able to describe the ionization of plasma due to the propagation of an
electromagnetic wave. A preliminary comparison between numerical and experimental results
concerning the plasma conductivity is reported.
This experimental study has established some major characteristics of a surface wave driven
plasma monopole antenna. It has been confirmed that the length of the antenna increases as the
square root of the excitation power.
The slope variation of this curve has been presented as a function of pressure which is
consistent with a simple global model within a precision of 5%.
Estimations of the resonant length of the plasma antenna, based on the measured VSWR, have
proved that the resonant length of a plasma antenna varies dynamically with excitation power
and gas pressures.

Transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves have become an integral part of the
present day civilisation. Antenna is an essential device for this process. It is a transducer that
transmits or receives electromagnetic waves. In other words, antennas convert electromagnetic
radiation into electric current, or vice versa.

Antennas are used in systems such as radio and television broadcasting, point-to-point
radio communication, wireless LAN, cell phones, radar, and spacecraft communication.
Antennas are most commonly employed in air or outer space, but can also be operated
underwater or even through soil and rock at certain frequencies for short Distances.

Growing need for speed of communication network along with data handling
capacity are the major forces helping to explore new vistas of transmission and reception. With
the wireless generations moving from 2G to 3G, 4G, and 5G and so on, the real benefit of
upgrading the Wi-Fi networks is to get them to run faster. Wi-Fi usually can manage 54
megabits of data per second. The fancied We-Fig (a graphical user interface for configuring
wireless connection) would handle up to 7 gigabits per second. This would mean downloading
a TV show in a matter of seconds. Advances in antenna technology are expected to play a great
role in the desired speed and capacity handling capabilities of communication networks.

3. Antenna technology:
Physically, an antenna is an arrangement of one or more conductors, usually called elements.
In transmission, an alternating current is created in the elements by applying a voltage at the
antenna terminals, causing the elements to radiate an electromagnetic field. In reception, the
inverse occurs. An electromagnetic field from another source induces an alternating current in
the elements and a corresponding voltage at the antenna’s terminals. Some receiving antennas
(such as parabolic and horn types) incorporate shaped reflective surfaces to collect the radio
waves striking them, and direct these waves onto the actual conductive elements. Some of the
first rudimentary antennas were built in 1888 by Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894) in his pioneering
experiments to prove the existence of electromagnetic waves predicted by the theory of James
Clerk Maxwell.

Hertz placed the emitter dipole at the focal point of a parabolic reflector.
The words antenna (plural: antennas) and aerial are used interchangeably, but usually a rigid
metallic structure is termed an antenna and a wire format is called an aerial. The origin of the
word antenna relative to wireless apparatus is attributed to Guglielmo Marconi. In 1895, while
testing early radio apparatuses Marconi experimented with early wireless equipment. A 2.5-
metre long pole, along which a wire was carried, was used as a radiating and receiving aerial
element. In Italian a tent pole is known as lantana central, and the pole with a wire alongside it
used as an aerial was simply called antenna. Until then wireless radiating, transmitting and
receiving elements were known simply as aerials or terminals. Marconi’s use of the word
antenna (Italian for pole) became a popular term for what today is uniformly known as the

Since the discovery of radio frequency (RF) transmission, antenna design has been an
integral part of virtually every communication and radar application. Technology has advanced
to provide unique antenna designs for applications ranging from general broadcast of radio
frequency signals for public use to complex weapon systems. In its most common form, an
antenna represents a conducting metal surface that is sized to emit radiations at one or more
selected frequencies. Antennas must be efficient so the maximum amount of signal strength is
expended in the propagated wave and not wasted in antenna reflection.

There are many antenna types and many ways of categorising them. Antenna types can be
used to differentiate antennas for radios, televisions and radar systems. Because antennas can
be built for transmission of different frequencies, another way to categorise
antenna types is by their frequency. For radio antennas, it’s important to know whether these
are built for, say, frequency modulation (FM) broadcasting at 88-108 MHz or amplitude
modulation (AM) broadcasting at 535- 1605 kHz . For television antennas, one distinguishes
between ultra-high frequency (UHF) antennas and very high frequency (VHF) antennas, or
antennas that pick up both. The latest version of antenna, i.e., plasma antenna employs ionised
gas enclosed in a tube (or other enclosure) as the conducting element of the antenna.

4. Plasma antennas:

The difficulty in changing the antenna element in different application with various
frequencies is a concern for communicating. During the last few years, research on the plasma
antennas has greatly expanded . One reason is that the researchers and engineers now realize
that relative to the conventional metallic antenna, plasma antennas, in particular the surface
wave driven(SWD) ones, can generally be more flexible in operating conditions for special
technical applications. Plasma antennas find its applications in variety of fields such as military
applications, faster internet, public safety networks, radio and television broadcasting and
space communications.

The different states of matter generally found on earth are solid, liquid and gas. Sir
William Crookes, an English physicist, identified a fourth state of matter, now called plasma,
in 1879. Plasma is by far the most common form of matter. Plasma in the stars and in the
tenuous space between them makes up over 99 per cent of the visible universe and perhaps
most of what is not visible. Important to antenna technology, plasmas are conductive
assemblies of charged and neutral particles and fields that exhibit collective effects. Plasmas
carry electrical currents and generate magnetic fields.

A plasma antenna is a type of antenna in which the metal-conducting elements of a

conventional antenna are replaced by plasma. These are radio frequency antennas that employ
plasma as the guiding medium for electromagnetic radiation.

The plasma antennas are essentially a cluster of thousands of diodes on a silicon chip
that produces a tiny cloud of electrons when charged. These tiny, dense clouds can reflect high-
frequency waves like mirrors, focusing the beams by selectively activating particular diodes.
The ‘beam-forming’ capability could allow ultra-fast transmission of high data loads—like
those needed to seamlessly stream a TV show to an unmetered tablet creating an attractive
option for the next generation of supercharged wireless transmitters.
Many types of plasma antennas can be constructed, including dipole, loop and reflector
antennas. Plasma antennas are interpreted as various device in which plasma with electric
conductivity serves as an emitting element.

In gas plasma antenna the concept is to use plasma discharge tubes as the antenna
elements. When the tubes are energised, these turn into conductors, and can transmit and
receive radio signals. When de-energised, these revert to non-conducting elements and do not
reflect probing radio signals. The fact that the emitting element is formed over the interval
needed for the emission of an electromagnetic pulse is an important advantage of plasma
antennas. In the passive state (in the absence of plasma in the discharge tube), such a device
does not exhibit electric conductivity. A plasma stream flowing from a jet into the ambient
space, the plasma trace of a body moving at an ultrasonic velocity in the atmosphere, and
alternative plasma objects have been studied as possible antenna elements. Solid-state plasma
antenna uses beam forming technology and the used same manufacturing process that is
currently for silicon chips. That makes it small enough to fit into smart phones. Higher
frequencies mean shorter wavelengths and hence smaller.

The antenna actually becomes cheaper with the smaller size because it needs less
silicon. There is a gas plasma alternative but it’s not solid state, so it is bigger and contains
moving parts—making it more of a pain to manufacture. That leaves the door open for solid-
state plasma antenna to be used for next generation Wi- Gig that can reach up to 7Gbps
bandwidth over frequencies up to 60 GHz.


A plasma antenna is constructed from insulating tubes filled with low pressure gas; the gas
inside the tube can be ionized applying bursts of power, so that plasma can be rapidly generated
and destroyed; it is well known that a surface wave propagating along the tube length can create
and sustain plasma. The plasma element can be used instead of metal wires or surfaces as a
conducting medium for the radiated signal. Two different signals are needed in such antennas:
the “pump or excitation signal”, which supply to the tube the power needed to ionize the gas,
and the “radiated signal”, which support information to be transmit.

The main peculiarities related to this antenna follow from the possibility of changing the
electric parameters of plasma. When the pump signal is switched off, the gas inside is not

ionized and the tube is simply a dielectric with a very small radar cross section. On the contrary,
when the pump signal is applied, the gas is ionized and the tube behaves like a metallic antenna.
Because of this characteristic, plasma antenna was firstly studied for military applications;
however, it can be also used in many civil applications to realize smart antennas, circular scan



 When supply is given to the tube, the gas inside it get Ionized to plasma.
 After in this process plasma is highly energized, it behaves as a conductor
 Antenna generates a localised concentration of plasma to form a plasma mirror that deflects
RF beam launched form a central feed located at focus of mirror



 When plasma jet enters into the spiral field, signals are emitted
 The spiral is a localised concentration of plasma
 These spiral behave as plasma mirrors which helps in transmission of RF signals

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The plasma column of different gases is characterized by using standard Langmuir
probe of length 5mm and radius 0.3mm. Plasma density and electron temperature is
measured. The probe is inserted from a end of the glass tube. The probe is manually
biased from 100 to +100volts. By evaluating the slope of the I-V characteristics, the
electron temperature is obtained. The measured value of the density is computed from
measured ion saturation current. Plasma density and electron temperature are typically
measured as 5.6 at 1010 per cc and 5.5 e V respectively. The plasma density and
temperature of all gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, air and argon are observed to be
almost same for same external parameters and probe position. Fig. shows that density
profile along the axis of the glass tube. It is measured by changing the position of the
probe from one end to the other. The plasma density decreases away from the RF
exciter, placed at one end. The plasma density is 8 at 1010 per c.c. at 5 cm. and 41010
per c.c. at 30 cm, away from the RF exciter.


formed by RF field ( 5 MHz to 32 MHz) at the capacitive coupler. Surface wave excites at the
interface of plasma and glass tube. There is no external magnetic field. The plasma column of
length of 35 cm is formed by surface wave discharge. This surface wave is driven by 5 to 32
MHz frequency and 100 to 400 watts input power by rf generator. Hence the column is called
the surface wave driven plasma column. The characterization of surface wave in our system is
given below.

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FIGURE -variation in length of plasma column with input power at
difference constant working pressure and the length of glass tube
The length of plasma column depends on input power used to drive the surface wave. Fig
shows that the length of plasma column (0 cm to 35 cm) increases with input power (0 to
40watt), at constant working pressure.
The length of plasma column also depends on working pressure (.02 mbar to .05 mbar) at
constant input power, which is shown in Fig. the field components of surface wave are

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measured by standard dipole probe and loop probe on the surface of glass tube, that magnitude
of electric and magnetic field decreases along the axis of plasma column which is shown in fig.

Fig-Azimuthal field pattern of plasma antenna at different heights from the source of the
Plasma antenna

Azimuthally field pattern of the plasma column is measured by moving probe in the horizontal
plane around the plasma column in 15 degree increment from 3600 .at different heights (
5cm,10cm,15cm,50cm) from the end of plasma column where the source is situated. Fig. shows
surface wave field intensity as a function of the azimuthally angel.
It is observed to be reasonably axis symmetric so azimuthally wave number is m=0 The power
level of fundamental harmonic decays along the axis of plasma column. This indicates damping

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or attenuation of the wave inside the dielectric, which is measured by disc probe on the surface
of glass tube using spectrum analyzer. Fig.8 shows that the power level at 5 MHz decreases
from 8dB to 15 dB m along the axis of the plasma column. The above experimental results
show that axis symmetric electromagnetic surface wave is propagating along the interface of
plasma and glass tube. It deposits wave power to the plasma to form a 35 cm long plasma


By changing external operating parameters such as working pressure (.03 mbar to 0.3mbar),
driven frequency (3.7 MHz to 32 MHz), input power (70 watt to 400 watt), background
pressure (10-3 mbar to 10-6 mbar) and length of glass tube (5 cm to 30 cm), plasma column is
transformed to finite number of cylindrical or spherical striations (balls), helical plasma with
rotation and plasma with spiral shape. These different structures in plasma column are
transformed from a stable uniform inhomogeneous steady state (plasma column) to unstable
non uniform in homogeneous state, which again diffuses to stable non uniform in homogenous
observed steady state.

Fig-Planer array plasma antenna

Fig-spiral plasma antenna

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Fig-Helical plasma antenna


The radiation pattern of the tube working as an antenna is measured by a standard transmitter-
receiver system `Signet Antenna Analyzing Equipment's (S-99R, S-99T, S-99V)'.The
schematic experimental set up for this purpose is shown in Figure 22. The radiation pattern is
measured in the H plane (perpendicular to the antenna).

Fig: Picture of plasma antenna on the signet receiver

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Fig: Schematic picture showing the antenna with respect to the Transmitting system
in the co polar position

A 3 element Yagi antenna is taken as the transmitter to radiate at 590 M Hz. The plasma antenna
is mounted on the revolving machine and connected to the receiver. For each 1 degree, the
receiver measures the power received by the plasma antenna in dB micro Volt (dB¹V) and
stores it in the internal array memory. Two such arrays (of 360 points each) are provided. The
observed pattern is shown in Figure 24 for frequency 590 M Hz. Both curves are polar plots,
showing angular variation of the normalized received power. The outer circle has a constant
value 0 dB in this scale, and the inner circle has a value 10 dB. The measurement, with
reference to Figure is done for one particular polarization of the transmitter (or one particular
transmitter) at a time, for a full rotation of 360 degree of the receiver. First measurement is
referred to as `Array 1', as shown on the upper left panel of Figure 10. We can mark two cursors
on the Array 1 curve that show the received power in dB¹V at those particular angle values, as
shown on the lower left panel of Figure 24. In our measurement, Array 1 curve, marked `A', is
for co-polarization. The rst cursor shows the maximum value of received power having a value
73.4 dB at 193 degree, while the second cursor shows the minimum value of received power
having a value 59.0 dB at 24 degree. The second measurement referred to as `Array 2' is for
across polarization between the transmitter and plasma antenna, and this curve is marked `B'.
No cursors can be marked on this, as it has to be analyzed relative to the Array 1 results. Also,
it can be seen from Figure 24 that from angle 0 degree to 60 degree, the received power values
are approximately equal in both co- and cross-polarizations. This happens due to scattering
of ¯fields from the coaxial cable because it comes in between the transmitting and receiving
antennas. This coaxial cable has been used for power supply to the upper electrode of the
fluorescent tube.

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7. Experimental Investigation:-

Experimental setup of a SWD plasma antenna.

Theory:- In a cylindrical configuration, the possible modes of propagation of surface waves

along the plasma column are defined by their field intensity dependence upon the azimuthal
angle ϕ. According to [4,6], the mode selection relies essentially on the value of the product f
· R, where f is the excitation frequency and R is the radius of the antenna. When this value is
less than approximately2 GHz cm, the plasma column can be sustained only with the m =
0surface wave. This product value is independent of the gas nature and pressure. When f · R is
increased starting from 2 GHz cm, one can achieve the discharge with dipolar mode (m = 1).
Increasing f · Repeats the preceding situation with the larger modes. A condensed analysis of
the plasma radiation and power launching constraints on excitation of a surface wave on a
plasma column were presented in [7,8]. The case of a plasma column excited below ωp, the
angular plasma resonance frequency, leads to a negative permittivity and permits the
propagation of a surface wave along the column.

Let ω be the angular excitation frequency,

When (ωp/ω) >> 1,
The plasma occludes the wave as if it were as a perfect conductor. Following the analysis of
[9], for a given pressure, the height of the antenna should increase as the square root of the
applied RF power and may be written as:
(1) Where theoretical slope B (p) derived from global model as:
(2)C is a constant with a value of C ≈ 5 × 10^6

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A commercially available tube designed for lightning purpose has been used to create plasma
column; the tube has been inserted in a metallic box placed under a ground plane and fed by a
single electrode (fig.1): the intense field between a copper ring placed around the tube and the
ground plane provide the pump signal that propagates along the columns creating and
sustaining the plasma. A second copper ring can be placed near the first one to apply the signal
to be radiated. Thus, two different networks are needed: the excitation network and the signal
one. The set-up used [4] allows to determine the efficiency of the antenna with respect to the
radiated field as a function of the pump power delivered to the plasma column. The signal
radiated when a copper tube replaces the plasma element was used as a reference for the
efficiency calculation. The results obtained show that with the maximum power available the
performance degradation of the plasma antenna with respect to the copper one is only 2.5 dB
moreover; the efficiency plot exhibits a saturation corresponding to the maximum ionization
of plasma.

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 After sending pulse, it can be deionised and eliminates “ringing effect”.

 Operates up to 90 GHz.

 It use ionized gas as conducting material

 The gas is ionized only for the time of transmission or reception

 The design allows for extremely short pulses ,important to many forms of digital
communication and radars

 Gas ionizing process can manipulate resistance and when deionized ,the gas has infinite
resistance and doesn’t interact with RF radiation

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 High gain
 Low interference
 Low latency
 Wide bandwidth
 Affordable
 Compact and light weight
 Maintenance free
 Modular

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 The current hardware uses a wider range of frequencies so it’s impractically massive to
be used for mobile environments.

 Ionizer adds weight and volume

 Ionizer increases power consumption

 Higher ionization energy than for a tube

 Plasma antennas are expensive and hard to manufacture

 High-frequency signals mean that antennas operating at higher frequencies couldn’t

penetrate walls like conventional Wi-Fi, so signals would have to be reflected throughout
the buildings.

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 Plasma antenna has a number of application in defence ,space and Homeland security
 Network Equipment providers and system integrators
 Network operator
 Public safety
 Network sensing Defence
 In high speed digital communication and radar system
 Used for transmission and modulation techniques(PM,AM,FM)
 In radio antenna

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This experimental study has established some major characteristics of a surface wave driven
plasma monopole antenna. It has been confirmed that the length of the antenna increases as the
square root of the excitation power.
The slope variation of this curve has been presented as a function of pressure which is
consistent with a simple global model within a precision of 5%.
Estimations of the resonant length of the plasma antenna, based on the measured VSWR, have
proved that the resonant length of a plasma antenna varies dynamically with excitation power
and gas pressures.
The results have shown that decreasing the gas pressure or increasing the excitation
power, increases the resonant length of the antenna. Observations of the radiation pattern of
the antenna have shown that the azimuth pattern is not completely circular at the resonant
frequency maybe due to the configuration of the wave launcher. We found that the tapered
density profile of the plasma along the column may reduce the gain of the plasma antenna and
properties of a plasma antenna are strongly affected from the variation of the input parameters
involved. A numerical 1-D model was developed to conduct a parametric. The experimentally
activity highlighted how the main physical investigation of the interaction between
electromagnetic field and plasma. It has been shown that the model is valid, reliable and helpful
for understanding the complex phenomena concerning plasma antenna physics. Future work
will concern the implementation of a more realistic cylindrical geometry.


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