Effect of Surface Roughness in Micro-nano Scale on Slotted Waveguide Arrays in Ku-band
© The Author(s) 2017
Received: 6 May 2016
Accepted: 2 April 2017
Published: 12 April 2017
Modeling of the roughness in micro-nano scale and its influence have not been fully investigated, however the roughness will cause amplitude and phase errors of the radiating slot, and decrease the precision and efficiency of the SWA in Ku-band. Firstly, the roughness is simulated using the electromechanical coupled(EC) model. The relationship between roughness and the antenna’s radiation properties is obtained. For verification, an antenna prototype is manufactured and tested, and the simulation method is introduced. According to the prototype, a contrasting experiment dealing with the flatness of the radiating plane is conducted to test the simulation method. The advantage of the EC model is validated by comparisons of the EC model and two classical roughness models (sine wave and fractal function), which shows that the EC model gives a more accurate description model for roughness, the maximum error is 13%. The existence of roughness strongly broadens the beamwidth and raises the side-lobe level of SWA, which is 1.2 times greater than the ideal antenna. In addition, effect of the EC model’s evaluation indices is investigated, the most affected scale of the roughness is found, which is 1/10 of the working wavelength. The proposed research provides the instruction for antenna designing and manufacturing.
A Slotted Waveguide Array(SWA) antenna has the unique advantages of having a compact configuration, stable mechanical characteristics, low loss and high-efficiency, and is consequently widely used in communication systems. However, any structural deficiencies present, such as the surface error on slots and planes [1, 2], have a direct influence on its electrical properties. Although the surface error can be reduced to its limit value by machining the surface as flat as possible, roughness on a micro/nano-scale is inevitable [3–5]. Since a major functionality requirement is that the antenna is expected to operate at high frequencies such as the Ku band, the amplitude of roughness is equivalent to the working wavelength. In this case, roughness will result in amplitude and phase errors of radiating slots, and affect the self-admittance, coupling relationship, and the matching condition of slots, which can adversely affect the antenna’s electrical properties [6, 7]. Since this type of antennas is currently developed for high-frequency bands, high gain, low side-lobe level, high performance, ultra-wide band and high precision, the influence of roughness on SWA is becoming a hot topic for research.
Because the electrical performance of a SWA is directly affected by the degradation of its structural characteristics, some researchers have explored different structural factors that influence the antenna’s electrical properties. In terms of general array antennas, the prime interest has been on determinations of the pointing gain loss. On this subject, RUZE  published the first work related to this field and pursued issues regarding the effect of the position and amplitude-phase errors of radiating elements on the antenna gain loss. HSIAO  extrapolated that the effect formula of error on the beam’s width, which provided a very beneficial and applicable supplement to extant theories on antenna gain loss. Subsequently, WANG  investigated the influence of random errors for each radiating element on the performance of a phased array antenna based on the probability method. However, both RUZE and WANG assumed that the structural error was within a priori determined distribution and failed to analyze practical structural deficiencies through a finite element analysis of the antenna structure. Recently, TAKAHASHI, et al. , and SONG, et al. , investigated the dynamics related to distortions of the radiating surfaces and their impact on the antenna’s electrical performance. However, the majority of research concentrated on the relation between radiating slot information and the electrical performance of the antenna, and an extensive number of research papers has been published on this topic. Research has also been conducted on the relationship between radiating slot information and cavity errors, but no concrete associations have yet been determined. Moreover, the roughness of the inner wall of the radiating waveguide has hardly been studied.
Through his modeling research on the roughness of the waveguide, MORGAN  obtained a result which is now considered classical. The following analyses are found to be consistent with MORGAN’s results [14–16]. However, in MORGAN’s and the other analyses, some periodic functions were used. In the other hand, TSANG, et al. , used a random function to simulate roughness, which was characterized using the root mean square(RMS), correlation length, and the correlation function. Certainly, an advantage of using a random model was that it allows a similar approach as in the case of roughness occurring in copper interconnects. LUKIC and FILIPOVIC  modeled a rectangular-coaxial roughness by investigating the cubical, semi-ellipsoidal and pyramidal indentation, and his results showed that roughness accounted for up to 9.2% of their overall loss for frequencies below 40 GHz. Nonetheless, the roughness on the radiating waveguide is neither totally random nor clearly deterministic, and the altitude distribution, the slope and curve of the random model are associated with resolution and sampling length of the measuring instrument, while it is not unique [19–21]. Fractal geometry has provided an additional means of description and roughness analysis [22–24]. In our previous works, a one-dimensional fractal analysis of roughness is investigated , but the scope of its applicability is limited, because it is based on a deterministic mathematical form.
Based on previous studies, this paper seeks to investigate the relationship between surface roughness and antenna electrical properties. For this reason, an EC model was used to simulate roughness, based on which an influence mechanism equation was deduced.
2 Roughness Model
2.1 Electromechanical Coupled Roughness Model
2.2 Evaluation indices of the EC roughness model
3 Factors Affecting Roughness
In the field of antenna error analysis, there existed a number of papers dealing with the effect of imperfections in the waveguide cavity on radiating the slots’ error. For an antenna working in the GHz range, roughness of the waveguide becomes a critical reason for position and directional offset of the radiation slot. Therefore, in order to establish a connection between the roughness and radiating slot error, the key difficulty lies in antenna error analysis. Based on the model f(x, y), the roughness information should be primarily represented using antenna coordinates .
4 Testing of Proposed Methods
4.1 Experiment on a planar slot antenna
In order to provide evidence supporting the EC roughness model and how factors related to its influence antenna performance, a miniature planar slot array antenna was processed as an experimental project case. The antenna operated in the Ku band, with a central frequency of 12 GHz, a gain of no less than 17 dB, and the first lobe level was no higher than -16 dB. Its structural dimensions were 150 mm × 126 mm, and it had ten radiating waveguides and eight vertical offset slots on each waveguide.
Comparison of two indexes of measurement data and EC model
The antenna was fixed on the test turning platform to ensure that the radiating plane was parallel to the direction of gravity and the scanning plane of the measuring waveguide probe. The near-field data of the antenna was measured by the plane near-field scanning method, while the far-field data were obtained through the near-field to far-fieldtransformation(nffft) method [32, 33]. The plotting radiating pattern is for the H-plane. The electrical performance was evaluated using the antenna gain, the maximumsidelobe level, and the 3-dB beamwidth on azimuth plane, as well as the maximum sidelobe level, and 3-dB beamwidth on the pitch plane.
4.2 Simulation of the SWA with Roughness
The second step was to add the roughness information to the ideal antenna model. The structural boundary of the antenna was determined by the shape of the data stream, and the roughness model was added into it as an additional boundary. The finite element model of the antenna with roughness was built using the GUI.
The third step was to translate the structural model to an electromagnetic analysis model by converting the tetrahedral body elements of the structural model into triangular surface elements, which were necessary for the electromagnetic analysis. Based on the surface elements, a surface model of the antenna was built and the intracavity model was extracted from it. Finally, the intracavity model of the antenna was introduced into HFSS 11.0 and the electrical properties of the model were obtained.
4.3 Results and Discussion
An EC roughness model is presented to characterize the roughness by using the Gaussian filter. Two evaluation indices of the EC model are introduced.
ARelationship between the roughness and the array’s radiation properties is obtained by analyzing the positional difference of the radiating slots.
A novel simulation method for the non-ideal antenna is introduced.
Existence of roughness strongly broadens the beam width and raises the side-lobe level of SWA, with the maximum value being 1.2 times greater than obtained by a smooth antenna.
The most affected scale of the roughness is found, which is 1/10 of the working wavelength.
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