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ANTENTOP- 03- 2003, # 004

Plasma Antenna Technology

 

effects of solid wire antenna design are eliminated. The design allows for extremely short pulses, important to many forms of digital communication and radars. The design further provides the opportunity to construct an antenna that can be compact and dynamically reconfigured for frequency, direction, bandwidth, gain and beam width. Plasma antenna technology will enable antennas to be designed that are efficient, low in weight and smaller in size than traditional solid wire antennas.

 

When gas is electrically charged, or ionized to a plasma state it becomes conductive, allowing radio frequency (RF) signals to be transmitted or received. We employ ionized gas enclosed in a tube as the conducting element of an antenna. When the gas is not ionized, the antenna element ceases to exist. This is a fundamental change from traditional antenna design that generally employs solid metal wires as the conducting element. We believe our plasma antenna offers numerous advantages including stealth for military applications and higher digital performance in commercial applications. We also believe our technology can compete in many metal antenna applications.

Plasma Reflector

 

 

 

Initial studies have concluded that a plasma antenna's performance is equal to a copper wire antenna in every respect. Plasma antennas can be used for any transmission and/or modulation technique: continuous wave (CW), phase modulation, impulse, AM, FM, chirp, spread spectrum or other digital techniques. And the plasma antenna can be used over a large frequency range up to 20GHz and employ a wide variety of gases (for example neon, argon, helium, krypton, mercury vapor and zenon). The same is true as to its value as a receive antenna.

 

Market Applications of Plasma Technology

 

Plasma antennas offer distinct advantages and can compete with most metal antenna applications. The plasma antenna's advantages over conventional metal elements are most obvious in military applications where stealth and electronic warfare are primary concerns. Other important military factors are weight, size and the ability to reconfigure. Potential military applications include:

 

Shipboard/submarine antenna replacements.
Unmanned air vehicle sensor antennas.
IFF ("identification friend or foe") land-based vehicle antennas.
Stealth aircraft antenna replacements.
Broad band jamming equipment including for spread-spectrum emitters.
ECM (electronic counter-measure) antennas.
Phased array element replacements.

EMI/ECI mitigation
Detection and tracking of ballistic missiles
Side and back lobe reduction

 

Military antenna installations can be quite sophisticated and just the antenna portion of a communications or radar installation on a ship or submarine can cost in the millions of dollars.

 

Plasma antenna technology has commercial applications in telemetry, broad-band communications, ground penetrating radar, navigation, weather radar, wind shear detection and collision avoidance, high-speed data (for example Internet) communication spread spectrum communication, and cellular radiation protection.

 

Unique Characteristics of a Plasma Antenna

 

One fundamental distinguishing feature of a plasma antenna is that the gas ionizing process can manipulate resistance. When deionized, the gas has infinite resistance and does not interact with RF radiation. When deionized the gas antenna will not backscatter radar waves (providing stealth) and will not absorb high-power microwave radiation (reducing the effect of electronic warfare countermeasures).

 

 

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