Terahertz integrated antenna arrays for imaging applications
ColaboratorLlombart Juan, Nuria; Jofre Roca, Lluís; Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Departament de Teoria del Senyal i Comunicacions
Document typeDoctoral thesis
PublisherUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
Terahertz is the portion of the spectrum that covers a frequency range between 300 GHz - 3 THz. This frequency band has proven its potential for imaging applications thanks to the good compromise between spatial resolution and penetration; however, this push towards high frequencies contains many technological difficulties in all the subsystems involved in the signal generation, transmission and detection. The power budget restrictions and high losses that sources and receivers currently suffer at these frequencies require systems with a high level of integration among all the devices and components of the systems and subsystems. Therefore, the antennas needed for these systems require to be integrated within the same fabrication processes and technologies as the sensing and power converting devices that are used at their terminals. This doctoral thesis has focused on the development of integrated antenna arrays at Terahertz frequencies for imaging applications, for both near-field and focal-plane geometries, with a special emphasis on the technologies and the fabrication capabilities that can be potentially used and are currently available. The current imaging systems require large arrays of antennas in order to achieve the high-speed image acquisition that is required in most THz applications. This fact increases considerably the difficulty and complexity to achieve highly integrated and efficient antennas. This thesis has characterized and analyzed these difficulties and provided solutions to the development of antenna arrays at millimeter and submillimeter wave frequencies. The first part of this thesis has focused on the study of a planar antenna array, called retina, for a specific near-field imaging system based on the Modulated Scatterer Technique (MST) at millimeter and submillimeter-wave frequencies. This system has been selected for its capabilities to perform high-speed imaging and because it does not require a high frequency distribution line network. However, it is hindered by many technological difficulties: the selection of an antenna geometry that achieves high efficiency, the selection of the adequate active element and its integration with the antenna. In this thesis, these challenges have been addressed and studied in-depth, and a design methodology that integrates all the different aspects of the system has been developed. Because planar antennas at millimeter and submillimeter wave frequencies suffer from high losses due to the surface wave modes inside substrate, these losses have been analyzed and quantified for different antennas, and an antenna geometry that reduces significantly this problem has been developed. Different switching technologies currently or potentially available at these high frequencies have been considered in order to study and analyze their capabilities and their integration possibilities: PIN diodes, Schottky diodes and RF-MEMS. These technologies have been studied through the development of three retina prototypes, which have been fabricated using high precision fabrication processes such as laser micromachining and photolithographic. Different measurement set ups were fabricated and assembled to validate the different premises presented. The second part of the thesis is devoted to the study of integrated Focal Plane Arrays (FPA). The development of FPA at submillimeter wave frequencies is highly on demand due to the enormous progress in designing integrated heterodyne receivers. These receivers integrate arrays of submillimeter-wave diode-based mixers and multipliers with Monolithically Integrated Circuit (MIC) amplifiers on the same wafer stack. For this stackable multi-pixel terahertz camera technology to work, a leaky wave antenna with silicon micro-lenses has been developed, which allows wafer level integration compatible with silicon micro-fabrication techniques for bulk array manufacturing and has high directivity in order to illuminate a reflector efficiently. Detailed and thorough design guidelines for this antenna are presented. Two antenna prototypes were built in order to evaluate the two fabrication possibilities: advanced laser micro-fabrication and photolithographic fabrication. A study of the aberrations of the lens has been developed in order to evaluate the performance of the lens profile fabricated. Moreover, a set of radiation pattern measurements of the fabricated prototypes was performed in order to evaluate the performance of the antenna and its possibilities to be used as a FPA.
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