The design of antenna arrays involves, amongst others, the selection of the array elements and geometry, as well as the element excitations. The feeding network to obtain the desired excitations can become quite complex, and hence expensive. One possible alternative would be to make use of micros trip wire-grid antenna arrays. These arrays are composed of staggered interconnected rectangular loops of dimensions a half¬wavelength by a wavelength (in the presence of the dielectric). It is because the short sides are considered to be discrete elements fed via micros trip transmission lines, that these antennas are viewed as arrays. While considerable success has been achieved in the design of these antennas, published work has been either of an entirely experimental nature or based on approximate (albeit clever) network models which do not allow for fine control of the array element excitations or off-centre-frequency computations generally. It is the purpose of this thesis to perform an almost rigorous numerical analysis of these arrays in order to accurately predict their element excitations. Models used to study microstrip antennas range from simplified ones, such as transmission-line models up to more sophisticated and accurate integral-equation models. The mixed-potential integral equation formulation is one of these accurate models which allows for the analysis of arbitrarily shaped microstrip antennas with any combination of frequency and dielectric thickness. The model treats the antenna as a single entity so that physical effects such as radiation, surface waves, mutual coupling and losses are automatically included. According to this formulation, the microstrip antenna is modelled by an integral equation which is solved using the method of moments. By far the most demanding part of the integral equation analysis is its actual numerical implementation. For this reason a complete description of the numerical implementation of the formulation is given in this thesis. To verify the accuracy of the implementation, rectangular microstrip patch antennas were analysed and surface current distributions were shown to compare favourably with published results. The formulation is then applied to the analysis of micros trip wire-grid antenna arrays which makes it possible to accurately predict surface current distributions on these arrays. Radiation patterns are determined directly from computed current distributions in the presence of the dielectric substrate and groundplane, and are essentially exact except for finite groundplane effects. To verify theoretically predicted results for wire-grid antenna arrays, several arrays were fabricated and actual radiation patterns were measured. Good correspondence between measured and predicted co-polar radiation patterns was found, while the overall cross¬polarization behaviour in cases with large groundplanes could also be predicted. The fact that numerical experimentation can be performed on wire-grid antenna arrays to examine element excitations, means that it is now possible to carefully design for some desired aperture distribution.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2010.