PCB-Based Antennas

Dated:2017-02-05      Popularity:1313

A large variety of PCB-based antenna structures are used at microwave frequencies, and some are used at higher frequencies. A common PCB antenna structure is a microstrip patch antenna. A microstrip structure is a two-layer copper circuit with a signal plane and a ground plane, but it is more common for this type of circuit to be the outer layers of a multilayer circuit.

The size of the copper feature or patch, for a microstrip patch antenna, has to do with a fraction of a wavelength, usually ½ wavelength. The patch will transmit or will be very sensitive to receive energy at a specific frequency, which is related to the ½ wavelength circuit feature size. Wavelength is associated with frequency as well as the dielectric constant (Dk) of the circuit material. Just for reference, a higher frequency will translate to a shorter wavelength and a smaller patch. Also, using a circuit material with a higher Dk will also decrease the wavelength and make a smaller patch. As a general statement, the circuit materials used for PCB-based antenna applications typically have a lower Dk and commonly have a Dk value in the range of 3-4.

Additionally, circuit materials with higher Dk will cause the electric fields to concentrate more between the signal plane and the ground plane of the circuit. The field concentration will reduce radiated energy and accordingly, PCBs with antenna radiating elements will often use a material with a relatively low Dk value. Another common attribute for antenna designs using PCB technology is the use of thicker laminates. A thicker microstrip circuit will radiate energy better and it is common for microstrip patch antenna designs to use thicker material (30 mils or thicker).

This article is written by John Coonrod. Learn more, please google it.


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