Modulated Microwave Retro-reflectors and Their Applications

Thornton, John (2002). Modulated Microwave Retro-reflectors and Their Applications. PhD thesis The Open University.



This work seeks to investigate the viability of establishing communications links using modulated microwave reflectors, and explores potential application areas. A primary and underlying objective has been to combine modulation of radar cross section (RCS) with the wide-angle RCS response of a microwave retro-reflector so as to yield a transponder which imparts information content on the reflected spectrum. Since the RCS is electrically large, the communications link is directive and yet the transponder is not a transmitter of microwave energy and hence has modest power needs.

The microwave retro-array was quickly identified as the most promising structure to achieve these aims, and hence the further objectives of the work have been to investigate this structure and fabricate working prototypes so as to:
• achieve a manufacturable structure.
• perform measurements to compare with theoretical models of behaviour.
• explore the limits of performance, and seek to expand them.
• identify applications and markets.
• explore and pursue such related discoveries that may occur.

All the above aims have been explored to some extent, and the findings have been reported in the body of the thesis. The background and historical context is discussed in chapter 1, while chapter 2 reports on the construction and characterisation of 16- element modulated retro-array prototypes operating at a 2.5 GHz carrier frequency. The applied nature of this work is extended in chapters 3 and 4 to printed integrated circuits for passive transponders, and the scaling of these methods to frequencies around 9.2 GHz. Theoretical models for the properties of much larger arrays are presented in chapter 5, and range finding applications and results presented in chapter 6. Two applications are then discussed for which the required array dimensions are estimated, before closing with conclusions and suggestions for future work.

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