Like parabolic reflectors, you can use HORN RADIATORS to obtain directive radiation at microwave frequencies. Because they do not use resonant elements, horns have the advantage of being useful over a wide frequency band.
The operation of a horn as an rf radiating device is similar to that of an automobile horn radiating sound waves. However, the throat of an automobile horn usually is sized much smaller than the sound wavelengths for which it is used. The throat of the rf radiating horn is sized to be comparable to the wavelength being used.
Horn radiators are used with waveguides because they serve both as an impedance-matching device and as a directional radiator. Horn radiators may be fed by coaxial and other types of lines.
Horn radiators are constructed in a variety of shapes, as illustrated in figure 3-9. The shape of the horn determines the shape of the field pattern. The ratio of the horn length to the size of its mouth determines the beam angle and directivity. In general, the larger the mouth of the horn, the more directive is the field pattern.
Figure 3-9. - Horn radiators.
With a LENS ANTENNA you can convert spherically radiated microwave energy into a plane wave (in a given direction) by using a point source (open end of the waveguide) with a COLLIMATING LENS. A collimating lens forces all radial segments of the spherical wavefront into parallel paths. The point source can be regarded as a gun which shoots the microwave energy toward the lens. The point source is often a horn radiator or a simple dipole antenna.
The WAVEGUIDE-TYPE LENS is sometimes referred to as a conducting-type. It consists of several parallel concave metallic strips which are placed parallel to the electric field of the radiated energy fed to the lens, as shown in figure 3-10, views (A) and (B). These strips act as waveguides in parallel for the incident (radiated) wave. The strips are placed slightly more than a half wavelength apart.
Figure 3-10A. - Waveguide lens.
Figure 3-10B. - Waveguide lens.
The radiated energy consists of an infinite number of RADIAL SECTIONS (RAYS). Each of the radial sections contains mutually perpendicular E and H lines and both are perpendicular to the direction of travel. Because each of the radial sections travels in a different direction, the point source, in itself, has poor directivity. The purpose of the lens is to convert the input spherical microwave segment (which consists of all of the radial sections) into parallel (collimated) lines in a given direction at the exit side of the lens. The focusing action of the lens is accomplished by the refracting qualities of the metallic strips. The collimating effect of the lens is possible because the velocity of electromagnetic energy propagation through metals is greater than its velocity through air. Because of the concave construction of the lens, wavefronts arriving near the ends of the lens travel farther in the same amount of time than do those at the center. Thus, the wavefront emerging from the exit side of the lens appears as a plane wave. It consists of an infinite number of parallel sections (with both the E field and H field components) mutually perpendicular to the direction of travel.
Another type of lens that you may see is the DIELECTRIC or METALLIC DELAY LENS shown in figure 3-11. The delay lens, as its name implies, slows down the phase propagation (velocity) as the wave passes through the lens. The delay lens is convex and is constructed of dielectric material. The delay in the phase of the wave passing through the lens is determined by the DIELECTRIC CONSTANT (REFRACTIVE INDEX) of the material. In most cases, artificial dielectrics, consisting of conducting rods or spheres that are small compared to the wavelength, are used. (Artificial dielectrics are of three-dimensional construction and act as a dielectric to electromagnetic waves.) In this case the inner portion of the transmitted wave is decelerated for a longer interval of time than the outer portions. The delay causes the radiated wave to be collimated.
Figure 3-11. - Delay-type lens.
Loaded Microwave Lens
The LOADED MICROWAVE LENS, shown in figure 3-12, is a multi-cellular array of thousands of cells. Each cell contains a slow-wave (delayed), serrated-metal, plastic-supported waveguide element which acts as a phase-controlling device. A loaded lens can focus microwave energy in much the same way as the waveguide type. The reason is that the speed of propagation is higher in the region between parallel plates than in free space. The parallel plates support the cells.
Figure 3-12. - Loaded lens.
The lens shown in figure 3-12 has an egg-crate appearance because it is really two lenses occupying the same volume. Vertical plates make up a lens that focuses a vertically polarized beam, and horizontal plates handle beams which are horizontally polarized. In other words, this type of construction can be used in multiple-beam applications where the polarization of the beams is different.
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