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All About Ka-Band Antenna Technology

Key Takeaways

  • Ka-band satellite communication uses frequencies from 27 GHz to 40 GHz. 

  • With the reduction in cost, Ka-band antennas showcase considerably good data transfer rates.

  • For SOTM applications, Ka-band antennas are preferred due to their compact low profile, low cost, and light weight.

 Microstrip antennas

Microstrip Ka-band antennas offer many advantages such as light weight, easy integration, and low costs

The market growth for satellite communication is booming. For high-speed data communication, Ka-band frequencies are often utilized. However, as the use of Ka-band satellite communication increases, challenges in the field become more visible.

One such challenge is the design of the antenna. Small Ka-band antenna design is time-consuming, as the design must meet all the specifications of the application. Ka-band antennas can use various technologies such as gap waveguides, microstrips, and phased arrays. We will explore Ka-band antenna applications, design, and advantages in this article.

Ka-Band Applications

Ka-band satellite communication uses frequencies from 27 GHz to 40 GHz. The wavelength ranges from 0.75 cm to 1.1 cm. Major advantages of the Ka-band frequency in satellite communications include:

  1. Larger bandwidth availability
  2. Higher speed or data rates
  3. Significant throughput
  4. Suitability for multiple beam satellites
  5. Small user terminals

The small user terminals refer to the incorporation of small antennas. The advantages of small antennas in Ka-band frequency satellite communication systems are utilized in applications such as two-way broadband internet, mobile backhaul, enterprise applications, defense applications, and disaster management.

Ka-Band Satellite Communication

Ka-band satellite communication has played a constant role in commercial communication since the first decade of this century. The high throughput of Ka-band satellites, along with the wider availability of bandwidth and compact user terminals, make it a popular communication system. The costs of manufacturing, launching, and maintaining Ka-band satellite communication systems are comparable with the costs of wired broadband or 4G mobile communication. The monetary benefits achieved, along with the improvements in performance, are highlights of Ka-band satellite communication systems.

Ka-Band Antennas

The compactness of Ka-band antennas is one of the most cited merits of Ka-band satellite communication. Data transmission and reception speeds are limited in user satellite communication terminals with antennas with a diameter in the range of 1 meter.

It is easier to manufacture and maintain compact Ka-band antennas. And, despite them being cheaper to produce, they still offer great data transfer rates. The technical challenges faced in Ka-band antenna design and manufacturing decrease with a reduction in dimension. Several technologies are used to implement Ka-band antennas–let’s look at a few of them next. 

Microstrip Ka-Band Antennas

Microstrip Ka-band antennas are attractive due to their light weight, easy integration, and low cost. They exhibit improved bandwidth and gain with design modifications. For example, the parallel/series feed technique in microstrip Ka-band antennas improves the gain and bandwidth.

Microstrip antenna arrays are also used in Ka-band applications. The sequentially rotated series parallel stub technique is one of the methods employed in Ka-band antennas to allow the symmetrical positioning of array elements. The good axial ratio of polarization, spatial flexibility for array elements, and impedance matching are achieved in Ka-satellite communications by using microstrip Ka-band antenna arrays.

Ka-Band Antennas Using Gap-Waveguide Technology

For satellite communication on-the-move (SOTM) applications, compact low profile, low-cost, and lightweight Ka-band antennas are preferred. Ka-band antennas with these physical properties should also meet electrical specifications such as good beam quality, low cross-polarization, and high gain.

The Ka-band antenna arrays in gap waveguide technology are a promising solution that satisfies both the physical and electrical specifications demanded by SOTM applications. Gap waveguide technology-based Ka-band antennas are simpler than conventional waveguide antennas and offer low distribution losses. The simplicity of feeding networks is also appreciated in gap waveguide-based Ka-band antennas. 

Ka-Band Antenna-in-Package

Several innovative substrate technologies have been explored for Ka-band antenna applications in 5G wireless communications. The substrates employed in Ka-band antenna design include: 

  • Glass substrates
  • Organic high-density interconnect substrates
  • High and low-temperature co-fired ceramic substrates
  • Molding compound-based wafer-level substrates 

Substrate technology-based Ka-band antenna array modules optimize gain, radiation pattern, and bandwidth for optimal beamforming and beam scanning. They also showcase interconnection flexibility, good thermo-mechanical capabilities, board integration, and IC assembly.

Cadence Tools Support Antenna Design for Ka-Band Applications

Ka-band antenna design is essential to building 5G wireless communication systems. Cadence can support you in designing microstrip and gap waveguide antennas for Ka-band applications. Cadence OrCAD software assists you in the development of antennas utilizing different technologies.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.