Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a phased-locked loop coupled array system capable of generating phase shifts in phased array antenna systems - while minimizing signal losses.
Phased array antenna systems have a wide range of applications, including radar, sonar, long distance communications and imaging. An array contains evenly spaced antennas, often deployed in a two-dimensional grid pattern. Each antenna can be independently controlled - using phase shifters - to steer electromagnetic waves in a particular direction and thus create a concentrated beam. This approach allows the frequencies of the waves emitted by adjacent antennas to be adjusted as needed. These waves then superimpose to create the desired signal. However, current phase shifter technologies have limitations – including increased power consumption, risk of signal loss and limited operating ranges - especially when deployed in high frequency applications. Often, additional, complex, components are also required to design a phase shifter that can handle high frequencies.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a new architecture for generating phase shifts in phased array antenna systems. Phased-locked loop (PLL) coupled arrays generate phase shifts at high frequencies, while also being power efficient and scalable. This technology deploys a two-element, PLL-coupled, array that can be used in millimeter-wave and sub-terahertz phased array applications. The device regulates the voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs), while simultaneously maintaining a steady reference frequency.
This PLL-coupled array architecture eliminates the need for phase shifters at high frequencies. In addition, eliminating the requirement for long signal routings at high frequencies makes this technology scalable for mm-wave and sub-THz phased arrays that contain a large number of elements. This new, PLL-coupled, array architecture results in decreased signal losses, even after increasing power consumption.This technology’s simplified design also eliminates the requirement to route phases to multiple endpoints.
Phase array, Antenna, High frequency signal transmission, Phase-locked loop, PLL, Voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs)