SCIENTIA SINICA Informationis, Volume 50 , Issue 7 : 1091-1109(2020) https://doi.org/10.1360/SSI-2019-0247

From active phased array antenna to antenna array microsystem in post-Moore era

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  • AcceptedMar 30, 2020
  • PublishedJul 13, 2020


In this review, we analyze and study the characteristics, current status, developing trend, and bottleneck technologies of active phased array antennas by highlighting the high-resolution earth observation microwave imaging radar demands for highly-efficient, low-profile, and lightweight antennas. We present the concept and contents of antenna array microsystem and several leading-edge technology issues based on predications of integrated circuits (ICs) development in the post Moore era. The multi-physics coupling model under the micro-nano scale involved in antenna array microsystem, critical technologies such as microwave semiconductor ICs, hybrid/heterogeneous integration, packaging and functional materials, and their solutions are described and explored. This study prospects the antenna array microsystem potentially applied in the next generation of microwave imaging radar.

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  • Figure 3

    (Color online) Tiled module array antenna

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) A future active array antenna

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) Comparison betwen two types of antenna. (a) Backside of active phased array antenna;protectłinebreak (b) radiation side of antenna array system; (c) backside of antenna array system

  • Figure 6

    (Color online) Schematic diagram of antenna array microsystem. (a) Antenna array microsystem composition; (b) conceptual diagram of antenna array microsystem

  • Figure 7

    (Color online) Science and technology challenges of the antenna array microsystem

  • Figure 8

    (Color online) Hybrid integration and monolithic integration

  • Figure 9

    (Color online) Typical 3D advanced package structure. (a) Die stacked 3D package; (b) wafer stacked 3D package; (c) MCM stacked 3D package

  • Figure 10

    (Color online) Embedded passive component integration based on LTCC

  • Figure 11

    (Color online) LTCC embedded 3D microfluidic structure. (a) Embedded multilayer microfluidic structure; (b) multiple; (c) serpentine; (d) parallel fractal-shaped; (e) series fractal-shaped

  • Table 1   Relation analysis on the effect of antenna on microwave imaging radar performance
    Features of array antenna Benefits of microwave imaging radar Mechanism analysis
    Wide-band, multi-beam Realizing multiple functions of high-resolution wide-swath imaging, GMTI/AMTI. Large signal bandwidth is used to improve distance resolution. Theoretical distance resolution $=C/2B$, where $C$ refers to light speed, and $B$ means signal bandwidth. Multi-beam mechanism is applied, and the multi-channel echo is multiplexed to fully utilize the spatial information to achieve wide-swath imaging and GMTI.
    Multi-band, multi-polarization Improving capability in multi-dimensional information acquisition to ensure the full information. Realizing multi-band and multi-polarization SAR image fusion.Improving target classification, identification and interference-resistant capability. The difference of target scattering characteristics at different frequencies and polarizations is applied to acquire the fused image with more complete target information.
    High isolation Reducing the crosstalk of the main signal from the accompanying signal.Improving the purity of the polarized/frequency signal.Improving the SAR image quality. Polarization/frequency signal purity is one of the key factors of image quality. Crosstalk among channels affects image definition and reduces the ability to extract information from the image.
    High efficiency, low profile, light weight Improving the system sensitivity, and radar configurability in the space platform. Decreasing the platform cost and the launching cost. High efficiency can improve radar performance and reduce power and thermal design costs. Low profile and light weight can facilitate platform loading and meet satellite launching envelope requirements.
  • Table 2   Comparison between antenna array microsystem and active phased array antenna
    Active phased array antenna Antenna array microsystem
    Scientific theory Electromagnetic, thermodynamic, materials science, etc. Mechanic electric thermal mutual coupling theory at micro-nano scale
    Simulation analysis Mechanic, electric and thermal simulation analysis individually, system architecture optimization Both large and small scale matching optimization and multi-physics collaborative simulation analysis
    Design and fabrication Design and fabrication for system, module and components respectively, system integration Collaborative design of system, device and materials, all-in-one integration fabrication
  • Table 3   Characteristic parameters for several semiconductor materials
    Characteristic parameter Si GaAs 4 H-SiC GaN Diamond
    Energy band gap Eg (eV) 1.1 1.43 3.26 3.49 5.6
    Breakdown electric field intensity (MV/cm) 0.3 0.4 2.0 3.3 5.0
    Saturated drift velocity ($10^{7}$ cm/s) 1.0 2.1 2.0 2.7 2.7
    Mobility (cm$^{2}$/V$\cdot~$s) 1500 8500 700 900 2200
    Thermal conductivity (W/cm$\cdot$K) 1.5 0.5 4.5 1.7 20.0
    Relative dielectric constant ($\varepsilon_r$) 11.8 12.8 10.0 9.0 5.0

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