Photoresist-based polymer resonator antennas (PRAs) with lithographic fabrication and dielectric resonator antennas (DRAs) with improved performance
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The demand for higher bit rates to support new services and more users is pushing wireless systems to millimetre-wave frequency bands with more available bandwidth and less interference. However at these frequencies, antenna dimensions are dramatically reduced complicating the fabrication process. Conductor loss is also significant, reducing the efficiency and gain of fabricated metallic antennas. To better utilize millimetre-wave frequencies for wireless applications, antennas with simple fabrication, higher efficiency, and larger impedance bandwidth are required. Dielectric Resonator Antennas (DRAs) offer many appealing features such as large impedance bandwidth and high radiation efficiency due to the lack of conductor and surface wave losses. DRAs also provide design flexibility and versatility. Different radiation patterns can be achieved by different geometries or resonance modes, wideband or compact antennas can be provided by different dielectric constants, and DRAs can be excited by a wide variety of feeding structures. Nevertheless, compared to their metallic counterparts, fabrication of DRAs is challenging since they have traditionally been made of high permittivity ceramics, which are naturally hard and extremely difficult to machine and cannot be easily made in an automatic way. The fabrication of these three dimensional structures is even more difficult at millimetre-wave frequencies where the size of the antenna is reduced to the millimetre or sub-millimetre range, and tolerances to common manufacturing imperfections are even smaller. These fabrication problems restrict the wide use of DRAs, especially for high volume commercial applications. A new approach to utilize the superior features of DRAs for commercial applications, introduced in this thesis, is to exploit polymer-based resonator antennas (PRAs), which dramatically simplifies fabrication due to the natural softness and results in a wide impedance bandwidth due to the low permittivity of polymers. Numerous polymer types with exceptional characteristics can be used to fulfill the requirements of particular applications or achieve extraordinary benefits. For instance, in this thesis photoresist polymers facilitate the fabrication of PRAs using lithographic processes. Another advantage derived from this approach is the capability of mixing polymers with a wide variety of fillers to produce composite materials with improved or extraordinary characteristics. The key contributions of this thesis are in introducing SU-8 photoresist as a radiating material, developing three lithographic methods to fabricate photoresist-ceramic composite structures, introducing a simple and non-destructive measurement method to define electrical properties of the photoresist composites, and demonstrating these structures as improved antenna components. It is shown that pure SU-8 resonators can be highly efficient antennas with wideband characteristics. To achieve more advantages for RF applications, the microwave properties of photoresists are modified by producing ceramic composite materials. X-ray lithography fabrication is optimized and as a result one direct and two indirect methods are proposed to pattern ultra thick (up to 2.3 mm) structures and complicated shapes with an aspect ratio as high as 36:1. To measure the permittivity and loss tangent of the resulting materials, a modified ring resonator technique in one-layer and two-layer microstrip configurations is developed. This method eliminates the requirement to metalize the samples and enables characterization of permittivity and dielectric loss in a wide frequency range from 2 to 40 GHz. Various composite PRAs with new designs (e.g. frame-based and strip-fed structures) are lithographically fabricated, tested, and discussed. The prototype antennas offer -10 dB bandwidths as large as 50% and gain in the range of 5 dBi.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorDr. David M. Klymyshyn
CommitteeDr. Lotfollah Shafai; Dr. K. Stanley; Dr. R. Johanson; Dr. S. Achenbach
Copyright DateApril 2011