Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Reconfigurable beam reflectarray antenna for frequencies in the range of terahertz and millimeter wave

Posted by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPCResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

The reflectarray antenna consists of a flat array of phase-shifter cells (reflectarray) illuminated by a feeder, which produces an electronically reconfigurable collimated or shaped beam, where the cells (3b) consist of several stacked layers of conductive elements (4c, 4e, 4d, 4f) on a dielectric substrate (7c, 7d) alternated with layers of liquid crystal (5c, 5d) and a conductive plane (9). Applying bias voltages in the conducting elements, the dielectric constant of the liquid crystal varies producing a phase shift of the reflected field in each cell, allowing for a electronic beam scanning or reconfiguration. Including multiple layers of conductive elements and liquid crystal, improves the bandwidth and the performance of the beam scanning or reconfiguration. The antenna can be applied to observation satellites, communications and security systems.

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

The Challenge

Prior reconfigurable antennas demonstrators are based on liquid crystals, with a single liquid crystal layer and where the bias voltage applied to the liquid crystal is varied continuously in order to conduct an electronic beam scanning. This prior technology has two limitations:
1) Continuous control of liquid crystal polarization is unstable and doesn’t allow electronic beam sweeping or reconfiguration in real time.
2) A single layer of liquid crystal is not enough to obtain sufficient phase variation for a full beam reconfiguration, being the reconfiguration capabilities very limited in the beam shaping and in bandwidth.

The Technology

The invention solves these two problems mentioned above. The liquid crystals are polarized into two extreme states only, so that the phase control is more stable and switching times are lower. Stacking several layers printed elements with liquid crystal, with independent polarization voltages for each layer, leading to various phase states (more than 2 bits) to allow a more accurate electronic beam scanning and / or reconfiguration.

Current stage of development

The invention is in a conceptual stage. A demonstrator will be manufactured in 2 years.

Applications and Target Market

- Space: Instruments for observation of the Earth - Communications: high-bandwidth communications - Radars: in the range of sub-millimeter frequency bands - Security: for image reconstruction equipment for weapon and explosive detection.
Target Market: Security, communications, aerospace.

Innovative advantages

This reflectarray antenna based on multilayer liquid crystal cells for electron beam scanning or reconfiguration can be used as an alternative to reflectors with mechanical sweeping with the following advantages:
Reduced weight and volume Improved reliability and beam scanning speed Low cost

Intellectual property status

Granted Patent
Technology available for licensing with technical cooperation Patent Status Patent priority application filed

Technology Owner

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office

Related keywords

  • Electronics, IT and Telecomms
  • Aerospace Technology
  • Industrial manufacturing, Material and Transport Technologies
  • Radar
  • Security systems
  • Network Technology, Network Security
  • Detection and Analysis methods
  • Communications Protocols, Interoperability
  • Analytical and Scientific Instrumentation
  • Equipment and instrumentation
  • Communications
  • observation
  • bandwith

About Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office from Spain

The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech is a public institution dedicated to higher education and research in the fields of engineering, architecture and science, which contributes its knowledge and expertise in order to increase scientific output, transfer its results to society and provide a network of scientific and technical state-of-the-art facilities and technology valorization services that place us at the leading edge of innovation and economic development.

The UPC has established itself as a driver of innovation and is the technology partner of choice for companies and organizations with which it develops projects and builds partnerships. A role borne out by the numerous agreements and research projects that have been set in motion by groups, organizations and laboratories; the creation of new technology-based companies; the generation and exploitation of patents, and the scientific and technical services UPC makes available to its environment in order to generate progress and employment.

The Technology Transfer Office (SGI) is responsible of Designing, coordinating and implementing research valorisation strategies, carrying out the protection policy of the research results, marketing these results through license contracts and designing and setting up the University's enterprise creation model in order to transfer the results of the research to the market, protect and commercialize these results, promote the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and create technology-based companies within the UPC environment.

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