Highly dispersive photonic crystal fibers for optical true time delay (TTD) based X-Band phased array antenna
MetadataShow full item record
Phased array antenna (PAA) is a key component in many of the modern military and commercial radar and communication systems requiring highly directional beams with narrow beam widths. One of the advantages that this technology offers is a physical movement-free beam steering. Radar and communication technologies also require the PAA systems to be compact, light weight, demonstrate high bandwidth and electromagnetic interference (EMI) free performance. Conventional electrical phase shifters are inherently narrowband. This calls for technologies that have a larger bandwidth and high immunity to electromagnetic interference. Optical true-time-delay (TTD) technique is an emerging technology that is capable of providing these features along with the ability to provide frequency independent beam steering. Photonic crystal fiber (PCF) based optical TTD lines are capable of providing precise and continuous time delays required for PAA systems. Photonic crystal fibers are a new class of optical fibers with a periodic arrangement of air-holes around a core that can be designed to provide extraordinary optical characteristics which are unrealizable using conventional optical fibers. In this dissertation, highly dispersive photonic crystal fiber structures based on index-guidance and bandgap-guidance were designed. Designs exhibiting dispersion coefficients as large as -9500ps/nm/km and 4000ps/nm/km at 1550nm were presented. A TTD module utilizing a fabricated highly dispersive PCF with a dispersion coefficient of -600ps/nm/km at 1550nm was formed and characterized. The module consisted of 4 delay lines employing highly dispersive PCFs connected with various lengths of non-zero dispersion shifted fibers. By employing PCFs with enhanced dispersion coefficients, the TTD module size can be proportionally reduced. A 4-element linear X-band PAA system using the PCF-TTD module was formed and characterized to provide continuous time delays to steer radiofrequency (RF) beams from -41 degrees to 46 degrees by tuning the wavelength from 1530nm to 1560nm. Using the PCF-TTD based X-Band PAA system, single and simultaneous multiple beam transmission and reception capabilities were demonstrated. Noise and distortion performance characteristics of the entire PAA system were also evaluated and device control parameters were optimized to provide maximum spurious-free-dynamic range. In order to alleviate computational and weight requirements of practical large PAA systems, a sparse array instead of a standard array needs to be used. X-Band sparse array systems using PCF and dispersive fiber TTD technique were formed and RF beam steering was demonstrated. As an important achievement during the research work, the design and fabricated structure of a PCF currently reported to have the highest dispersion coefficient of -5400ps/nm/km at 1549nm, along with its limitations was also presented. Finally, other interesting applications of highly dispersive PCFs in the areas of pulse compression and soliton propagation were explored.