Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Dejan S. Filipovic

Second Advisor

Edward Kuester

Third Advisor

Mark Picket-May


Spiral antennas are capable of dual polarized operation if the currents can propagate along their arms by going either out or in through the radiation region of the spiral. The wrapping sense of the spiral determines the polarization of the radiated field resulting from this current flow. There are two ways to accomplish this phenomenon over very wide bandwidths. Specifically, either have a feed point for the spiral both outside and inside the radiation region, or use of the modulated arm width (MAW) spiral antenna. The MAW spiral antenna has not been widely accepted and is seldom reported in open literature. Its geometry is however sufficiently unique from the other planar frequency independent (FI) antennas to require a complete explanation of where it fits for different applications, specifically RF sensing. The design of the MAW spiral antenna is detailed herein including geometry described by modulation period, modulation magnitude, expansion rate, total number of arms, feed point structure, termination, cavity, feeding and dielectric effects. The emphasis is on detailed understanding of its performance characteristics such as impedance, pattern control and quality. The relevance of these characteristics to the antenna being used as a sensor is explained. The specific concerns being quantified are location by angle of arrival techniques and polarization detection. The use of a four-arm MAW spiral for angle of arrival as well as polarization sensing is demonstrated theoretically and experimentally. This combined capability has not been mentioned in any literature previously and was investigated thoroughly under this thesis to determine the limitations since as found herein no other four-arm FI planar antenna has this capability. In addition, the application of several geometries of the MAW spiral are examined as possible improvements over the original equiangular geometry including Archimedean, bi-layer, and structures that are not self-complementary due to either the modulation ratio or the period. In particular, pattern performance improvement is demonstrated for modulation periods that do not produce self-complementary geometries while having minimal impact on impedance. Finally, an investigation into the asymmetric modes for an arbitrary number of arms was conducted to evaluate the performance limits of the highest available mode (mode with the largest phase change between arms) of a MAW spiral. Typically, this highest mode has significantly poorer performance than the other modes due to the inability of the MAW spiral to separate it from the modes that are not controlled by the beamformer.