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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Opto-microwave, Butler matrixes based front-end for a multi-beam large direct radiating array antenna
Author(s): M. A. Piqueras; T. Mengual; O. Navasquillo; M. Sotom; G. Caille

Paper Abstract

The evolution of broadband communication satellites shows a clear trend towards beam forming and beamswitching systems with efficient multiple access schemes with wide bandwidths, for which to be economically viable, the communication price shall be as low as possible. In such applications, the most demanding antenna concept is the Direct Radiating Array (DRA) since its use allows a flexible power allocation between beams and may afford failures in their active chains with low impact on the antenna radiating pattern.

Forming multiple antenna beams, as for ‘multimedia via satellite’ missions, can be done mainly in three ways: in microwave domain, by digital or optical processors:
- Microwave beam-formers are strongly constrained by the mass and volume of microwave devices and waveguides
- the bandwidth of digital processors is limited due to power consumption and complexity constraints.
- The microwave photonics is an enabling technology that can improve the antenna feeding network performances, overcoming the limitations of the traditional technology in the more demanding scenarios, and may overcome the conventional RF beam-former issues, to generate accurately the very numerous time delays or phase shifts required in a DRA with a large number of beams and of radiating elements.

Integrated optics technology can play a crucial role as an alternative technology for implementing beam-forming structures for satellite applications thanks to the well known advantages of this technology such as low volume and weight, huge electrical bandwidth, electro-magnetic interference immunity, low consumption, remote delivery capability with low-attenuation (by carrying all microwave signals over optical fibres) and the robustness and precision that exhibits integrated optics.

Under the ESA contract 4000105095/12/NL/RA the consortium formed by DAS Photonics, Thales Alenia Space and the Nanophotonic Technology Center of Valencia is developing a three-dimensional Optical Beamforming Network (OBFN) based on integrated photonics, with fibre-optics remote antenna feeding capabilities, that addresses the requirements of SoA DRA antennas in space communications, able to feed potentially hundreds of antenna elements with hundred of simultaneous, orthogonal beams.

The core of this OBFN is a Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) implementing a passive Butler matrix similar to the structure well known by the RF community, but overcoming the issues of scalability, size, compactness and manufacturability associated to the fact of addressing hundred of elements. This fully-integrated beam-former solution also overcomes the opto-mechanical issues and environmental sensitivity of other free-space based OBFNs.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2017
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 10563, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014, 105633Q (17 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2304244
Show Author Affiliations
M. A. Piqueras, DAS Photonics (Spain)
T. Mengual, DAS Photonics (Spain)
O. Navasquillo, DAS Photonics (Spain)
M. Sotom, Thales Alenia Space (France)
G. Caille, Thales Alenia Space (France)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10563:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014
Zoran Sodnik; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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