Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Dejan S. Filipovic

Second Advisor

Michael C. Buck

Third Advisor

Edward F. Kuester

Abstract

Since their invention about 55 years ago, spiral antennas have earned a reputation for providing stable impedance and far-field patterns over multi-decade frequency ranges. For the first few decades these antennas were researched for electronic warfare receiving applications, primarily in the 2-18 GHz range. This research was often done under conditions of secrecy, and often by private contractors who did not readily share their research, and now have been defunct for decades. Even so, the body of literature on the two-armed variant of these antennas is rich, often leading non-specialists to the misconception that these antennas are completely understood. Furthermore, early work was highly experimental in nature, and was conducted before modern data collection and postprocessing capabilities were widespread, which limited the range of the studies. Recent research efforts have focused on extending the application of spirals into new areas, as well as applying exotic materials to `improve' their performance and reduce their size. While interesting results have been obtained, in most instances these were incomplete, often compromising the frequency independent nature of these antennas. This thesis expands the role of the multi-armed spiral outside of its traditional niche of receive-only monopulse direction finding. As a first step, careful study of the spiral-antenna mode theory is undertaken with particular attention paid to the concepts of mode filtering and modal decomposition. A technique for reducing the modal impedance of high arm-count spirals is introduced. The insights gained through this theoretical study are first used to improve the far-field performance of the coiled-arm spiral antenna. Specifically, expanding the number of arms on a coiled arm spiral from two to four while providing proper excitation enables dramatically improved broadside axial ratio and azimuthal pattern uniformity. The multiarming technique is then applied to the design of an antenna with exceptionally stable and clean radiation patterns without use of an absorbing cavity. The multiarming technique allows the spiral to retain its pattern integrity at frequencies well below those of comparable two-armed spiral antennas. A quadrifilar helix-type of end-loading is applied to the end of the spiral, resulting in dramatically-improved low-frequency gain. Careful application of resistive end-loading allows good impedance matching at frequencies as low as one-half of the Mode 1 cutoff frequency, while providing acceptable radiation efficiency due to effective use of the available antenna volume. A novel dual-layering technique for reducing the spiral's modal impedance is presented, allowing the antenna to present a good impedance match to a 50 ohm system. The third application of mode theory has been to exploit the wideband multi-mode capability of the multi-armed spiral antenna to implement a simple wide-band radiation pattern nulling technique on a multi-armed spiral antenna. It is shown that wideband nulling is possible and that, in contrast to traditional array antennas, grating lobes do not appear even over extremely wide bandwidths. Simple techniques for addressing the phenomenon of null rotation with frequency are discussed. Finally, mode theory has been used to analyze beamformer non-idealities. This has led to the revelation that the spectral distribution of beamformer errors is at least as important as the magnitude of those errors. Proper choice of beamformer topology can result in noticeable improvement in the antenna performance.

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