Proof of Concept of a Low-Cost Beam-Steering Hybrid Reflectarray that Mixes Microstrip and Lens Elements Using Passive Demonstrators
Pessoa, Luis M.
In this article, a proof-of-concept study on the use of a hybrid design technique to reduce the number of phase shifters of a beam-scanning reflectarray (RA) is presented. An extended hemispherical lens antenna with feeds inspired by the retrodirective array is developed as a reflecting element, and the hybrid design technique mixes the lenses with the microstrip patch elements to realize a reflecting surface. Compared to the conventional designs that only use microstrip antennas to realize a reflecting surface, given a fixed aperture size the presented design uses 25 percent fewer array elements while shows comparable beam-steering performance. As a result of using fewer elements, the number of required phase shifters or other equivalent components such as RF switches and tunable materials is reduced by 25 percent, which leads to the reduction of the overall antenna system's complexity, cost, and power consumption. To verify the design concept, two passive prototypes with a center frequency at 12.5 GHz were designed and fabricated. The reflecting surface was fabricated by using standard PCB manufacturing and the lenses were fabricated using 3D printing. Good agreement between the simulation and measurement results is obtained. The presented design concept can be extended to the design of RAs operating at different frequency bands including millimetre-wave frequencies with similar radiation performances. The presented design method is not limited to the microstrip patch reflecting elements and can also be applied to the design of the hybrid RAs with different types of reflecting elements.