The 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation and USNC-URSI Radio Science Meeting ran 7–12 July in Atlanta. (URSI is the Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale or International Union of Radio Science.) The conference began on Sunday, July 7, with nine short courses split between morning and afternoon blocks. Focused sessions with presentations began Monday morning, running through 5:00 p.m. on Friday — definitely a full week.
The topics addressed by the technical sessions included low-cost phased array technologies, AI for computational electromagnetics (EM), space-time modulated metamaterials, cybersecurity threats with EM systems and emerging technologies for biomedical applications. Some of the sessions were focused on Antennas and Propagation Society (AP-S) attendees, others on URSI subjects, and several were organized to appeal to the interests of both groups. The full program of presentations and meetings is found here.
The annual conference always includes a three-day exhibition, which enables attendees to visit with companies and organizations offering products and services in the field. Roughly 30 organizations participated this year, most familiar names to the readers of Microwave Journal. The exhibition attracted a good crowd when the attendees weren't listening to technical presentations across the hall.
Associate publisher Mike Hallman and I visited with most of the exhibitors to learn of new products and the capabilities being promoted.
Altair is a leading supplier of EM simulation software, Altair Feko, and wave propagation and radio network planning software, Altair WinProp. C.J. Reddy and other representatives were discussing the capability of Feko to design antennas and study antenna placement. Combined with WinProp, users can analyze and develop products for emerging markets such as 5G and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Across the hall in the technical sessions, Altair was well represented, presenting three papers:
- “Advanced Computational Tools for the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization of Airborne Radomes” by Gopinath Gampala, Eamon Whalen, Katelyn Hunter, Sarthak Mishra and C. J. Reddy.
- “RCS Enhancement Using Topology Optimization for Automotive Applications,” by Aseim Elfrgani and C.J. Reddy.
- “Hybrid Computational Techniques for Design and Placement Studies of Airborne Antennas using Altair Feko,” by C.J. Reddy
Reddy, who is an IEEE Fellow, has attended the AP-S conference for 28 years. The first 10 years, he participated as a researcher presenting papers; he then began supporting the Feko booth while continuing to present papers related to EM simulation.
Amazon — Project Kuiper
Amazon is a familiar name — arguably the best known brand in the world — yet one not associated with antenna technology. Representatives from the company were recruiting for Project Kuiper, Amazon’s proposed constellation of 3,236 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which will provide broadband internet access to most regions of the globe. While Amazon is a late entry to this private space race, founder Jeff Bezos clearly has the wealth and rockets to develop and launch the satellites.
Compass Technology Group and Copper Mountain Technologies
John Schultz demonstrated an automated reflectometer system for measuring aircraft radomes, using a Copper Mountain one-port VNA probe positioned with a robot arm. Watch his demo:
Jiyoun Munn was on hand to discuss the capabilities of the RF Module in COMSOL Multiphysics®. With the capability to perform multiphysics analyses, designers can extend the traditional EM analysis to consider additional factors, such as temperature rise, structural deformations and fluid flow. The COMSOL Multiphysics platform performs the analysis within the same software environment, easing the designer’s burden, making system analysis and optimization more efficient.
Microwave Vision Group
MVG recently announced the StarLab 50 GHz over-the-air (OTA) test system, designed to support 5G system development — both sub-6 GHz and in the FR2 bands from 24 to 50 GHz. MVG actually shipped one of the systems to the conference so companies could bring their own antennas and see a real-time demonstration of the OTA test system. Jim Acree gave us a demo of the StarLab 50 GHz, which you can view here:
NSI-MI featured several of the company’s turn-key, near-field measurement systems for antennas, covering bands from UHF to mmWave frequencies:
- SNF-RAZ-0.7, a three axes, spherical, near-field measurement system for low to medium gain antennas operating from UHF to mmWave frequencies and weighing up to 18 kg.
- SNF-RAZ-1.3, also a three axes, spherical, near-field measurement system for low to medium gain antennas operating from UHF to mmWave frequencies. This system handles heavier payloads, up to 75 kg.
- PNF-XYV-1.5x1.5, a four axes, planar, near-field measurement system for medium and high gain antennas with small apertures operating in L-Band through mmWave frequencies. This system is well-suited for testing feeds, small arrays and reflector antennas up to 7 kg weight.
- PNF-XYV-0.9x0.9, also a four axes, planar, near-field measurement system for medium and high gain antennas with small apertures operating in S-Band through mmWave frequencies. This system is tests feeds, small arrays and reflector antennas up to 6 kg weight.
Vince Rodriguez, a staff engineer at NSI-MI and adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi, told us his book, Anechoic Range Design for Electromagnetic Measurements, will be published by Artech House in late summer.
Remcom promoted two software packages at the conference: WaveFarer™, for automotive radar simulation, and the new ESD testing simulation feature in XFdtd®, the company’s 3D EM simulation platform.
WaveFarer enables users to virtually test automotive radar performance, which provides the ability to optimize performance without expensive drive testing. The tool includes a high fidelity radar simulator with near-field computation to simulate raw radar returns, using frequencies through the 79 GHz automotive radar band. Using ray tracing algorithms, the near-field propagation method calculates multi-path scattering off simulated targets and the ground.
Xfdtd now includes the ability to simulate ESD paths and weaknesses in designs prior to building prototypes. This modeling capability is important for identifying failure modes that will weaken a device, with a catastrophic failure occurring after the product is in the field. Read more about the ESD simulation capability in the product feature published in July’s Microwave Journal.
To demonstrate its test and measurement equipment for the upper mmWave and THz bands, Virginia Diodes (VDI) was measuring an E-Band filter covering 76 to 81 GHz using the WR10-VNAX VNA extender and a Keysight PNA network analyzer.
VDI’s extension modules extend the upper frequency range of network and spectrum analyzers, providing coverage to 1.5 THz. The company also supplies components for mmWave and THz systems, including detectors, mixers and frequency multipliers.
You’ll find a gallery of photos from the conference here.