Next Generation Wideband Antenna Arrays for Communications and Radio Astrophysics

Abstract: Wideband, wide-scan antenna arrays are a promising candidate for the future wireless networks and as well as an essential part of experimental radio astrophysics. Understanding the underline physics of the element performance in the array environment is paramount to develop and improve the performance of array systems. The focus of this thesis is to develop novel wideband antenna array technologies and develop new theoretical insights of the fundamental limits of antenna arrays. The developed methodologies have also been extended to include a radio astrophysics application for the global 21cm experiment.  Investigating the fundamental antenna array limits and extracting general performance measures can provide a priori estimates for any application of arrays. In this thesis, a general measure for antenna arrays, the array figure of merit is proposed. This measure couples bandwidth, height from the ground plane and reflection coefficient in a bounded quantity. An extension of the array figure of merit that is able to provide matching, bandwidth and directivity/gain limits is also introduced.The soft Vivaldi array is introduced as a novel wideband, wide-scan angle array technology. Periodic structure loading has been utilized to improve the array's performance and mold the electromagnetic wave behavior to our benefit. The soft condition has been utilized in the same manner as the conventional soft-horn antenna at the Vivaldi element. An integrated matching layer in the form of periodic strip loading is introduced. A single polarized soft Vivaldi array prototype has been developed fabricated and measured. The developed finite array has been loaded with a soft condition in the periphery to mitigate edge effects. The results indicated improved cross-polarization and side-lobe levels.A new class of wideband antenna arrays, the Strongly Coupled Asymmetric Dipole Array (SCADA) was also proposed in this thesis. Exploiting asymmetry in the array element introduces an additional degree of freedom that improves bandwidth and scanning performance. A novel methodology for terminating finite arrays is also proposed. The theory and an experimental antenna array is presented with good agreement between measured and simulated results. An effort to integrate a vertical wide angle matching layer was also addressed and a prototype array with this concept is presented.In the last part of this thesis, a methodology for the detection of the global cosmological 21cm signal from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) is developed. The main sources of errors in this experiment, the foregrounds and the antenna chromaticity are evaluated. A new algorithmic methodology for extracting the global EoR signal is proposed. The method is based on piecewise polynomial fitting and has successfully been applied and evaluated. An antenna array that is based on the methodologies described in this thesis has been developed and evaluated with the proposed algorithm.