The objective of the activity is to design, manufacture and test a compact Ka-band beam forming network breadboard for phased arrayantenna applications requiring a high number of beams.
Targeted Improvements: To increase the number of beams that can be generated by active phased array antennas from about 10 to more than 40.
Today, phased array antennas are limited to very few beams (around 10). This is due to practical limitations in the size of active phased array beam forming networks in terms of the number of radiating elements and beams, mainly due to the losses and the high complexity associated with the number of dies and interconnections (both RF and control). Emerging technology stemming from developments for automotive radar and 5G are paving the way towards wafer scale array antennas where radio-frequency (beam-forming and antenna) and digital control functions are fully integrated. This offers the prospect of extremely compact beam forming networks with increased functionality. This improvement, togetherwith other improvements in the domain of solid state power amplifier power efficiency and the introduction of antenna solutions based on sparse arrays (that significantly reduce the number of radiating elements) will allow a major increase of the number of beams that can be handled on future flexible Ka band broadband missions (both low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary earth orbit (GEO)).In this activity, a highly integrated Ka-band receive-transmit phased array antenna with the capability to support at least 40 beamsshall be designed for future LEO or GEO application. The antenna concept may be based on a regular or sparse array. The beam forming network has been identified as one of the critical elements to achieve the integration density to realise such a phased array antenna. Hence,taking into consideration the modularity of the final beam forming network solution, the active beam forming network, including control functions, shall be designed, manufactured and tested experimentally at breadboard level. Then, the results at beam forming level will be used as input to evaluate the associated antenna expected performance.The solution shall represent a breakthrough in terms of reducing the complexity of the beam forming network design, and therefore shall allow a substantial increase in themaximum number of beams that can be generated.