NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 S1.02-9359
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Active Microwave Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Dual Polarization Multi-Frequency Antenna Array

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Spectra Research Inc.
2790 Indian Ripple Road
Dayton, OH 45440 - 3639
(937) 320-5999

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Daniel D. Reuster, Ph.D.
2790 Indian Ripple Road
Dayton, OH 45440 - 3639
(937) 320-5999

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Innovative approaches for broadband multi-function antennas that conserve vehicle weight and reduce drag are welcome solutions for all airborne platforms including suborbital vehicles, where less total weight translates to longer mission times, less expensive payloads, and more acrobatic flight control. The Spectra Research team proposes an innovative approach to accomplishing the program objectives by employing advances in fragmented aperture antenna designs, and Meta-Materials research, in concert with the extensive Spectra Research capability in designing broadband antennas, to develop a low weight, low profile antenna system capable of operation over the electromagnetic region from 10 to 40 GHz. Designs will be addressed for antenna elements that can accommodate either broadband or multiband operation with polarization diversity. The primary technical objectives of the proposed program are to apply the advances in fragmented aperture arrays toward the goal of achieving an innovative broadband reconfigurable array. Extensive research conducted by Spectra Research in the area of fragmented aperture topologies have shown that this technology is ideally suited for applications requiring extremely broad bandwidths (in a reduced footprint) coupled with the capability for rapid reconfigurability of the antenna aperture. Such reconfiguration can accommodate efficient beam scanning, beam forming, and rapid polarization diversity (switching between various polarization modes). A key area of investigation will be into the application of fragmented aperture arrays, meta-materials, and continuously-variable distributed-circuit phase shifters using thin-film ferroelectric technologies.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The development of compact highly efficient antennas capable of dual polarization transmit/receive in the C- to Ka-Band will significantly enhance NASA capabilities for highly directive communications between astronauts on Lunar or Mars exploration missions. Polarization diversity is a vital element in maintaining optimum antenna-to-antenna linkage under adverse orientation.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed program is an important step towards continued commercialization of thin conformal antenna arrays coupled to thin-film devices and phase shifters and low cost receive and transmit/receive modules for electronically scanned antennas for military and civilian use. There is a significant civilian market for low cost phased array antennas, particularly for mobile satellite communications applications. There is a clear market pull for versatile arrays for both military electronics and the commercial broadband wireless and satellite communications arena. In addition, there are numerous opportunities for other tunable devices in the commercial wireless sector. The key features offered by fragmented aperture arrays and thin-film BST are extremely low cost and enhanced versatility over a wide range of frequencies by virtue of the wide "tunability" of the devices. We are confident that this broadband/multi-band array project can help achieve an instant market for commercial phased array antennas for applications targeted at mobile users and also have applicability in the commercial satellite market as well since these sub-arrays will scale to other bands relatively easily.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

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