Optically Transparent Beam-Steering Reflectarray Antennas Based on a Liquid Crystal for Millimeter-Wave Applications

Peyman Aghabeyki, Pablo Rosa, Manuel Caño-García, Xabier Quintana, Robert Guirado, Shuai Zhang*


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This study presents a method to realize an optically transparent beam-steering antenna. The RF and optical features of liquid crystal (LC) technology are used in combination with transparent metal mesh to realize the first optically transparent reconfigurable reflectarray (RA). Since the electric field of bias and radio frequency (RF) signals is highly nonuniform, the LC permittivity is both anisotropic and inhomogeneous, and thus, the behavior of LC molecules needs to be obtained for accurate modeling prior to antenna design. A unit cell consisting of metallic mesh and LC is analyzed and the LC director distribution is obtained. The director data are transformed into permittivity tensors in the entire LC volume and the LC is discretized in electromagnetic (EM) simulation software to perform full-wave periodic boundary simulation to model the anisotropy and inhomogeneity. The discretized model is approximated by a single dielectric block with a new permittivity range for GT7 LC material. A $10\times10$ RA is fabricated and measured in terms of optical and RF performance. The measured phase shift of the unit cell is 260° when the voltage is increased from 0 to 40 V. The measured beam scans from-10° to 50° in the E-plane and from-50 to +50 in the H-plane with a 14.35-dBi maximum gain. The prototype optical performance is also measured. The benefits and drawbacks of current RF LC mixtures are discussed. It shows that with an appropriate LC mixture optimized for both RF and optical transmission, the LC-based optically transparent antennas are a viable solution for various new applications.

TidsskriftI E E E Transactions on Antennas and Propagation
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)614-627
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 1 jan. 2024


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