A full electromagnetic analysis of fresnel zone plate antennas and the application to a free-space focused-beammeasurement system

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Reid, David R.
Smith, Glenn S.
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In this research, Fresnel zone plates were studied using an accurate, full-electromagnetic simulator based on the body-of-revolution finite-difference time-domain (BOR-FDTD) method. This tool was used to investigate zone plates for two different applications: zone plates used as antennas in communication systems and zone plates used as focusing elements in free-space, focused-beam measurement systems. Through detailed studies of zone plates for these applications, a number of general characteristics of the zone plate were given a more in-depth look than they have been given in the past. For the first application, parametric studies were performed for Soret, folded, and grooved-dielectric, phase-correcting zone plates for antenna applications. These studies were used to generate new design graphs, from which general observations are made about the effect of varying different parameters on the focusing ability of a zone plate. For the grooved-dielectric, phase-correcting zone plate, these studies show that a number of factors influence the focusing ability in ways that are unexpected, based on many of the simple techniques typically used to analyze zone plates. Each of these factors is evaluated individually. For the second application, a zone plate was designed to be used as a focusing element in a free-space, focused-beam measurement system. To determine the suitability of zone plates for this application, simulations and measurements of the electric field were used to compare this zone plate to a doubly-hyperbolic lens. A complete focused-beam system, using two zone plates as focusing elements, was used to measure the permittivity of different dielectric materials. These measurements are compared to results for a system that uses doubly-hyperbolic lenses and to published values. A technique for increasing the usable bandwidth of a zone plate in a focused-beam system was proposed and tested. Finally, as a topic for future research, the question is posed: Using the BOR-FDTD method, can a similar volume of material be shaped in a way that results in improved focusing performance compared to a traditional zone plate? Some insight into this open-ended question can be gained by examining preliminary results of the optimization of zone plates using of a genetic algorithm.
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