Dielectric Rod Antenna

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I have a fundamental question about the antennas made by using dielectric materials that I have not found a satisfied answer online. According to Wikipedia, antennas are described as,
"In radio, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in METAL CONDUCTORS, used with a transmitter or receiver."
How come is it possible that a dielectric material can be used as a radiating antenna?
 

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  • #2
sophiecentaur
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I have a fundamental question about the antennas made by using dielectric materials that I have not found a satisfied answer online. According to Wikipedia, antennas are described as,
"In radio, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in METAL CONDUCTORS, used with a transmitter or receiver."
How come is it possible that a dielectric material can be used as a radiating antenna?
The EM power for any antenna is carried ('guided') by a metal feed line. this is the same for a dielectric antenna and the energy is then launched onto a dielectric structure which shapes the phase across the wave front to form the required beam shape. Your quote from Wiki is strictly true - it just doesn't;t necessarily mention the dielectric structure that some antennae use in between the metal and space.
In many ways, beam forming with a dielectric shape works the same as a curved glass lens does with light. Light rays are deflected by different amounts through the different thicknesses of the lens and that can focus or spread the light. A dielectric lens introduces different phase shifts due to its varying thickness or, sometimes, its varying density. This can form a beam of em waves in a particular direction. For practical reasons, dielectric antennae are usually used for microwave wavelengths
 
  • #3
davenn
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How come is it possible that a dielectric material can be used as a radiating antenna?

I'm not aware of such, where did you hear/read this ?
what reference to it do you have ?
 
  • #4
davenn
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Dielectric resonator antenna
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Dielectric Resonator Antenna)

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A dielectric resonator antenna (DRA) is a radio antenna mostly used at microwave frequencies and higher, that consists of a block of ceramic material of various shapes, the dielectric resonator, mounted on a metal surface, a ground plane. Radio waves are introduced into the inside of the resonator material from the transmitter circuit and bounce back and forth between the resonator walls, forming standing waves. The walls of the resonator are partially transparent to radio waves, allowing the radio power to radiate into space.[1]

An advantage of dielectric resonator antennas is they lack metal parts, which become lossy at high frequencies, dissipating energy. So these antennas can have lower losses and be more efficient than metal antennas at high microwave and millimeter wave frequencies.[1] Dielectric waveguide antennas are used in some compact portable wireless devices, and military millimeter-wave radar equipment. The antenna was first proposed by Robert Richtmyer in 1939.[2] In 1982, Long et al. did the first design and test of dielectric resonator antennas considering a leaky waveguide model assuming magnetic conductor model of the dielectric surface .[3]

An antenna like effect is achieved by periodic swing of electrons from its capacitive element to the ground plane which behaves like an inductor. The authors further argued that the operation of a dielectric antenna resembles the antenna conceived by Marconi, the only difference is that inductive element is replaced by the dielectric material.[4]

OK this talks about dielectric resonators that are allowed to radiate, which sorta makes them an antenna.
I'm very familiar with the mentioned dielectric resonators, there's one in virtually every satellite dish LNB/LNA (low noise block/low noise amplifier)
The ceramic resonator is inside a cavity ( as stated above) but it doesn't have a RF transparent window that allows RF radiation to radiate out from the cavity

In a dielectric resonator cavity, the size of the ceramic resonator is used to determine/fix the frequency of operation by altering the physical size of the cavity.
RF DOES NOT radiate directly off the dielectric ceramic rod/puck and I suspect it's the same in the above reference.

If you are suggesting something different, I would love to see references. I would like to see the technology


Dave
 
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  • #6
davenn
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but that has nothing to do with the original post or the thread title …..
the lens systems you have linked to are focussing the transmitted or received RF, they are not responsible for the initial RF radiation

Now maybe that is what the OP really intended to talk about, in which case, he/she didn't describe that very well
the thread title and OP inferred that the actual radiator was a dielectric material, you link shows that that isn't the case :smile:

Dave
 
  • #7
sophiecentaur
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If you are suggesting something different, I would love to see references. I would like to see the technology
Google Images will show you dozens and dozens of examples dielectric antennae.
It's obvious that there needs to be an interface between the feeder and the radiator and that involves appropriate matching but there's nothing different in principle between a radiator that consists of a number of parasitic metal elements and a radiator that is made of dielectric. Directivity is always achieved by tailoring the phases of the wave front that's generated to favour a particular direction and shape of beam. A Yagi antenna does this by modifying the wave front of an isolated drive element.
As with a lot of technologies, there are more suitable and less suitable applications. Convenience of production is a big plus for some dielectric designs.
 
  • #8
marcusl
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The first microwave scanning phased array antenna was built during WW2 by the MIT Rad Lab--it is the Mark 8 fire control radar antenna and it used polyrod radiating elements.
ttwiz_04_4.jpg

The polyrod element guided and radiated EM waves just as we now guide and radiate light through an optical fiber. You can read about them here
https://archive.org/details/bstj26-4-837
 

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  • #9
sophiecentaur
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@davenn . I'm not sure where your objection to the "resonator" bit comes from. What is a simple matched dipole if it is not a resonator?
 
  • #10
davenn
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@davenn . I'm not sure where your objection to the "resonator" bit comes from. What is a simple matched dipole if it is not a resonator?

sorry, I don't understand what you are arguing against ?


D
 
  • #11
sophiecentaur
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sorry, I don't understand what you are arguing against ?
Actually I wasn't sure what you were arguing against. The OP has a problem with interpreting an over simplified Wiki description and taking it too literally. The wiki statement in post#1 does not exclude a dielectric being the radiating structure.
It's quite possible that we are cross purposes. Your quoted Wiki passage makes good sense to me in how it describes the way the antenna radiates.
RF DOES NOT radiate directly off the dielectric ceramic rod/puck and I suspect it's the same in the above reference.
Doesn't the reference say that it does?
"The walls of the resonator are partially transparent to radio waves, allowing the radio power to radiate into space"
Some resonators radiate (eg a dipole) and some don't (eg a metal cavity).
 
  • #12
davenn
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Doesn't the reference say that it does?
no

the dielectric is used as a lens focussing the RF that comes of a radiator

Dielectric lens antenna
dielectric-lens-antenna.jpg


"The walls of the resonator are partially transparent to radio waves, allowing the radio power to radiate into space"
but the dielectric ISNT generating the signal … the signal is being fed into the resonator.
Or in cases where there isn't a cavity resonator, like in the image above or in something like this …..

upload_2018-7-1_14-30-41.jpeg

d_fig_2_en.jpg




image8.png



In all of the examples, and there's lots more on the net, the dielectric ISNT doing the initial radiating, RF is being launched into the dielectric rod which
then performs beam shaping.
This includes the radar antenna that @marcusl posted above


Dave
 

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  • #13
tech99
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I have a fundamental question about the antennas made by using dielectric materials that I have not found a satisfied answer online. According to Wikipedia, antennas are described as,
"In radio, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in METAL CONDUCTORS, used with a transmitter or receiver."
How come is it possible that a dielectric material can be used as a radiating antenna?
When we say "radiation" we mean the permanent loss of EM energy from the antenna. Radiation is caused when a charged particle is accelerated. Both metals and dielectrics contain electrons which can be accelerated, so both will radiate. However, a vacuum contains no charges, so for instance, a vacuum filled capacitor will not radiate.
Examples of dielectric antennas include an open optical fibre or a laser.
If we have a dielectric lens or rod antenna, it can be connected to our transmitter or receiver using a dielectric waveguide, so a transition to metallic conductors is not necessarily involved.
 
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  • #14
sophiecentaur
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a vacuum filled capacitor will not radiate.
Really? That would imply that a dipole wouldn't work either, I think. The presence of air between the plates just modifies the dielectric constant a bit. Free space also has permittivity and there are still E and H vectors at the edges of the capacitor.
the dielectric ISNT doing the initial radiating,
etc.
This is an angels on a pinhead argument that we're having. You are calling the 'feed point' the 'original radiator' but I'm not sure that's really justified. The presence of the dielectric around the feed point is affecting the impedance that's seen - just as the parasitics on a Yagi modify the impedance and direct the energy. The only thing that is undisputably 'radiating' is the antenna as a whole.
Classification and terminology can waste a lot of time and we're only arguing where to draw an arbitrary dotted line to separate the feed and radiation functions.
 
  • #15
Baluncore
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An axial dielectric rod can be used to focus radiation from a launcher such as a feed horn. The rod does not launch the EM wave, it focuses, or aligns it, after it has been released from the conductive transmission line and antenna structure.
The velocity of the EM wave in the dielectric is lower than in air so the energy tends to follow the rod surface, until it runs out of rod and continues through space.
 
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  • #16
sophiecentaur
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The rod does not launch the EM wave, it focuses, or aligns it,
In your model, what is the difference between the feed of a dielectric antenna and the feed of an antenna with conventional metal parasitics? Plus, are you sure that the dielectric structure (particularly the parts right next to the drive) must not be considered to be part of the 'radiator'?
In particular, in the case of a resonator antenna, does your model still hold.
I really shouldn't have got so involved in this because Does it really matter what we call the radiator? Any hard rule is bound not to fit all cases and it can only confuse the innocent.
 
  • #17
tech99
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Really? That would imply that a dipole wouldn't work either, I think. The presence of air between the plates just modifies the dielectric constant a bit. Free space also has permittivity and there are still E and H vectors at the edges of the capacitor.
etc.
My understanding is that, for the case of a dipole, the radiation occurs when the electrons in the wire are accelerated. The capacitance between the ends (for instance the plates on the ends of a Hertzian Dipole) provides a non-radiating return path for the current. If this were not the case, the radiation from the wire and the capacitance would cancel. Although Maxwell tells us that the current flowing between the plates of a capacitor creates a magnetic field, this field is in quadrature to the E-field, not in-phase with it as with a radiated wave. (I am very interested in comments on this topic).
 
  • #18
sophiecentaur
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My understanding is that, for the case of a dipole, the radiation occurs when the electrons in the wire are accelerated. The capacitance between the ends (for instance the plates on the ends of a Hertzian Dipole) provides a non-radiating return path for the current. If this were not the case, the radiation from the wire and the capacitance would cancel. Although Maxwell tells us that the current flowing between the plates of a capacitor creates a magnetic field, this field is in quadrature to the E-field, not in-phase with it as with a radiated wave. (I am very interested in comments on this topic).
The Radiation Resistance of an 'ideal' Capacitor is very low but it must have dimensions (a spacing) so it will radiate energy, albeit inefficiently.
 
  • #19
Baluncore
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In your model, what is the difference between the feed of a dielectric antenna and the feed of an antenna with conventional metal parasitics?
I think we can say that EM energy always travels as the poynting vector of an EM wave. The EM wave may be a spherical wavefront in free space, or it may be guided by a conductive transmission line or waveguide.

There is no question that an optic fibre is also a type of waveguide, with an internally reflective surface, often with a section graded in RI. It is therefore also a dielectric rod. If you cut a fibre it will radiate.

A dielectric lens flattens the spherical radiated wavefront, so as to increases the gain. A dielectric rod antenna is small in diameter but long in wavelengths. The dielectric rod is often tapered to a point, which makes it an end-fire element with gain.

You may be right, it depends on where you draw the line, metallic conduction, guided or a spherical wave.

(I am very interested in comments on this topic).
I would like to buy an argument. Consider a resonant half-wave dipole in free space. Model it as an inductive wire in the middle with capacitance between the ends. The current at the centre will be a maximum as the voltage between the ends passes zero. V and I are therefore in quadrature. But since the intrinsic impedance of free space is real, with a value of about 377 ohms, an EM wave in space has the E and H components in phase.

What gives?

The current in the element seems to generate the magnetic component. That H then creates the perpendicular E electric field which permits the wave to proceed through space. It seems the voltage on the dipole is irrelevant.
 
  • #20
davenn
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An axial dielectric rod can be used to focus radiation from a launcher such as a feed horn. The rod does not launch the EM wave, it focuses, or aligns it, after it has been released from the conductive transmission line and antenna structure.
The velocity of the EM wave in the dielectric is lower than in air so the energy tends to follow the rod surface, until it runs out of rod and continues through space.

Exactly :smile: .... and that's what I have been trying to put across on several occasions to sophi and others
Again, the dielectric rod/lens whatever its shape is ONLY beam focussing/shaping the RF coming into it from the initial normal style radiator

Thanks Baluncore


Dave
 
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  • #21
sophiecentaur
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the initial normal style radiator
And what would that be? It could just as easily be the end of the feeder. But the feeder is merely guiding waves from the transmitter output device. I think that trying to draw a particular line is not achieving anything. Of course dielectrics behave differently from pieces of metal but most RF electronics has both involved at nearly all stages.
I can make a metal 'lens' or a metal reflector or I can do similar jobs with dielectrics. Do the two functions get different names just because they are made ofd different things? Likewise, at some stage within any antenna, there is a feed, followed by various bits and bobs. Why should any of those bits and bobs have an official name 'radiating element'? A cast iron name is more likely to cause confusion (as with the OP) than not.
 
  • #22
tech99
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Exactly :smile: .... and that's what I have been trying to put across on several occasions to sophi and others
Again, the dielectric rod/lens whatever its shape is ONLY beam focussing/shaping the RF coming into it from the initial normal style radiator

Thanks Baluncore


Dave
I think the rods and cones of the eye are dielectric antennas. The incoming radiation causes electrons in them to create a chemical reaction directly, without the need for any metal.
 
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  • #23
tech99
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The Radiation Resistance of an 'ideal' Capacitor is very low but it must have dimensions (a spacing) so it will radiate energy, albeit inefficiently.
If we use the Larmor Equation to find the power radiated by a widely spaced capacitor, assuming vacuum conditions, as there are no charges between the plates, there will be zero radiation. (I agree the connecting wires will radiate).
 
  • #24
sophiecentaur
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If we use the Larmor Equation to find the power radiated by a widely spaced capacitor, assuming vacuum conditions, as there are no charges between the plates, there will be zero radiation. (I agree the connecting wires will radiate).
If you can vary the charge on the capacitor without any connecting wires then fair enough. The Larmor Equation applies to an idealised situation so it can't really apply to reality - as you acknowledge. Anyone who really believes that a Capacitor in deep space will behave differently (significantly) than in air, needs a bit of experience of RF Engineering.
 
  • #25
tech99
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If you can vary the charge on the capacitor without any connecting wires then fair enough. The Larmor Equation applies to an idealised situation so it can't really apply to reality - as you acknowledge. Anyone who really believes that a Capacitor in deep space will behave differently (significantly) than in air, needs a bit of experience of RF Engineering.
I was trying to obtain agreement that the dipole radiation comes from the wires, not from the capacitance. The electric field on the ends is not the radiated electric field. It will vary with the Q of the system, and its role is to provide the accelerating force for the electrons in the wire.
Of course, I realise that a few molecules of air make little difference, I just suggested vacuum to eliminate a point of argument. I have been an RF experimenter for 60 years incidentally.
 

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