Phased Array Antenna

Precise control of the signal

Small IoT devices that communicate directly with LEO and GEO satellites are often deployed in large quantities. To keep the cost per device low, you need a cost-effective antenna that provides flexible beam steering capability and adequate gain. A conventional phased array antenna can indeed flexibly control the phases of the signals without having to be physically moved. Nevertheless, such an antenna is rarely used in the IoT sector – the cost of the number of antenna elements and the complexity of the phase shifter are simply too high.

Our compact phased array antenna provides a remedy here: instead of expensive phase shifters, we use a reduced set of switchable delay lines that can be implemented cost-effectively. We also limit the number of antenna elements and optimize their arrangement. Thus, our antenna is not only affordable, but also reliable.

Flexible antenna arrays for satellite IoT

The prototype of our antenna was developed for a satellite-based IoT network in which IoT devices communicate with GEO satellites. The array provides hemispherical beam coverage with a highly directional antenna beam. Instead of expensive phase shifters, our design allows this coverage with a few, cost-effectively implemented phase values.

Innovative element arrangement

There are two degrees of freedom in pointing an antenna beam at a LEO or GEO satellite: the elevation to the satellite, which ranges from the satellite's rise above the horizon to its crossing zenith, and the azimuth angle, which describes the horizontal orientation of an antenna.

Unlike the usual rectangular arrays where the elements are arranged in a regular grid, we arrange the antenna elements in concentric rings and regular sectors. Controlling the phase difference between the rings allows direct control of the elevation angle, while the symmetry and sector repetition in the azimuth direction supports arbitrary alignment of the antenna relative to the satellite.

Front side of the phased array antenna
© Fraunhofer IIS/Paul Pulkert
The front of the planar array consists of 25 circularly polarized elements. They are arranged in two concentric circles around a central element.

Optimized phase set

During the design and optimization process, the phase shifters for each ring are adjusted to support a minimum set of discrete phases. Each phase set is usually very small and offers between two and four different phase options. Combined with the optimized arrangement of elements, this provides just enough variability to steer the beam in any required direction. The use of switched delay lines built as part of the array feed network further simplifies the implementation of the phase shifter.

Rear of the phased array antenna
© Fraunhofer IIS/Paul Pulkert
The rear of the antenna array consists of an antenna board with power supply network and switchable delay lines.




Our expertise is the key to success



Our phased array antenna can be licensed. With our know-how we advise you individually and work with you to develop an antenna that is precisely tailored to your application. You can also count on our support when implementing the antenna in your system and commissioning it.

An all-rounder in many applications

Our compact phased array antenna is primarily designed for satellite-based IoT devices with low energy consumption and low data rates. However, phased array antennas are also in demand in other application areas. Higher data rates can be transmitted by adding additional element rings. This makes the phased-array antenna suitable for further applications in satellite communications, such as satellite internet or satellite links to remote locations.

Even for use in mobile communications antennas, the concept of the phased-array antenna is well-suited. Here, the focus is on downstream digital signal processing and optimization of energy consumption.

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