Design and Physical Realization of Phased-Array Antennas for MIMO and Beam-Steering Applications

A phased-array antenna is made up of multiple individual radiating elements (antennas), each fed with an RF signal controlled through phase shifters in such a way that the radio waves from the separate antennas are added together to increase the radiation. This forms a beam pointing in a desired direction, while at the same time suppressing radiation in undesired directions. The benefits of phased array systems over omni-directional antennas include higher directivity, fast electronic steering (beams that can be redirected in milliseconds), and the ability to emit multiple beams simultaneously for multifunctional operations. 

This white paper explores basic phased-array theory and the design considerations behind next-generation antenna systems. It also examines the new capabilities recently added to electronic design automation (EDA) software such as the NI AWR Design Environment platform.