Millimeter-Wave Antennas on Flexible Substrates: Roll-to-Roll Reverse-Offset Printing and Probe Station-Based Characterization

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School of Electrical Engineering | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2020-02-10
Degree programme
70 + app. 46
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 17/2020
Upcoming generations of millimeter-wave (mm-wave) communication systems present significant challenges on traditional fabrication paradigms, and the characterization of antennas in such systems. To meet the next generation mm-wave systems requirements, the antenna manufacturing must be low cost, high resolution, and suitable for mass production. Further, characterization method for these antennas must be developed that are compatible with a probe station environment. This dissertation studies roll-to-roll reverse-offset (R2R-RO) printing based fabrication of mm-wave antennas on flexible substrates and investigates the antenna radiation performance characterization methods for mm-wave probe-fed on-wafer antennas. The first part of the dissertation presents the R2R-RO printing technique and its application in the fabrication of mm-wave antennas. Printing technology offers a viable option for mass production. At mm-wave frequencies, the structure feature sizes are on the order of a few 10s of microns making fabrication with conventional printing methods unfeasible. R2R-RO printing enables the fabrication with the resolution of less than 10 µm making it sufficient for the future mm-wave electronics manufacturing. The principle of R2R-RO printing is presented, and a customized design structure is proposed to enable large-area printing. Coplanar waveguide (CPW) and microstrip patch antenna structures are designed and printed with the R2R-RO technique, and measured in a probe station environment. The results demonstrate print ink layer conductivity sufficient for mm-wave antennas. The second part of the dissertation is devoted to the systematic study of methods to quantify antenna radiation performance (gain and radiation pattern). Traditional antenna gain measurement methods require a second antenna to probe the antenna under test (AUT) which substantially increases measurement system complexity and can be impractical in a probe station measurement. The one-antenna gain measurement requires only the AUT and specular conductor plate (reflector). This reduced set of equipment enables characterization of probe-fed antennas in cluttered environments. The effect of reflector size on the measurement is studied with the physical optics (PO) method. A standard gain horn (SGH) and a microstrip patch antenna were measured by the one-antenna gain measurement method with the application of time-gating on frequency domain data. In addition, the antenna gain measurement method is extended to characterize the radiation pattern by adding a rotator to measure gain values at different angles. The radiation pattern and gain of several mm-wave antennas with different designed beam directions were measured by the proposed method in the probe station environment. Good agreement was observed between experiments and simulation.
Supervising professor
Räisänen, Antti V., Prof., Aalto University, Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering, Finland
Taylor, Zachary D., Prof., Aalto University, Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering, Finland
Thesis advisor
Ala-Laurinaho, Juha, Dr., Aalto University, Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering, Finland
antenna, antenna measurement, gain, millimeter-wave, printed electronics, radiation pattern, roll-to-roll, reverse-offset
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: J. Zheng, J. Ala-Laurinaho, A. Alastalo, T. Mäkelä, A. Sneck, A.V. Räisänen. Studies on applicability of reverse offset in printing millimeter-wave antennas on flexible substrates. In 2017 10th Global Symposium on Millimeter-Waves (GSMM), pp. 42–43, Hong Kong, China, May 2017.
    DOI: 10.1109/GSMM.2017.7970292 View at publisher
  • [Publication 2]: J. Zheng, J. Ala-Laurinaho, A. Sneck, T. Mäkelä, A. Alastalo, A.V. Räisänen. Roll-to-roll reverse offset printing of millimeterwave transmission lines and antennas on flexible substrates. In 12th European Conference on Antennas and Propagation (EuCAP 2018), London, UK, April 2018.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
    DOI: 10.1049/cp.2018.0443 View at publisher
  • [Publication 3]: J. Zheng, J. Ala-Laurinaho, and A.V. Räisänen. A simple method for on-wafer antenna gain measurement. In 2017 Progress in Electromagnetics Research Symposium – Spring (PIERS), pp. 1620–1624, St Petersburg, Russia, May 2017.
    DOI: 10.1109/PIERS.2017.8262009 View at publisher
  • [Publication 4]: J. Ala-Laurinaho, J. Zheng, and A.V. Räisänen. One-antenna gain measurement in a probe station. In 2018 IEEE Conference on Antenna Measurements & Applications (CAMA), Västerås, Sweden, September 2018.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
    DOI: 10.1109/CAMA.2018.8530553 View at publisher
  • [Publication 5]: J. Zheng, J. Ala-Laurinaho, and A.V. Räisänen. On the one-antenna gain measurement method in probe station environment at mm-wave frequencies. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement,vol. 68, no. 11, pp. 4510–4517, November 2019.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
    DOI: 10.1109/TIM.2018.2890454 View at publisher
  • [Publication 6]: J. Zheng, J. Ala-Laurinaho, Z.D. Taylor, and A.V. Räisänen. One-antenna radiation pattern measurement of on-wafer antennas in probe station environment. Submitted to Progress In Electromagnetics Research, December 2019.
  • [Errata file]: Errata of P2