Design of Kevlar Radome for Millimeter Wave Observations

Raecke, Tryston, Astronomy, University of Virginia
Johnson, Bradley, AS-Astronomy, University of Virginia

Radomes are structures which serve to protect a central radio detector or antenna from environment damage. Particularly in the case of their use in millimeter wave astronomy, these radomes must endure vacuum pressure while remaining optically transparent in target frequencies. Kevlar, a composite material which exhibits both high optical transparency in millimeter wavelengths and a high Young’s modulus, could be a new material of choice in the design of these structures. This paper describes the optical and mechanical requirements of the radome before comparing them against both Kevlar and the current State of the Art. Using simulations with both Python and SolidWorks, Kevlar is shown to outperform these materials by varying degrees. Next, a vacuum test apparatus is designed and fabricated which allows for the physical testing of Kevlar under vacuum. While inconclusive, the nature of this testing suggests that Kevlar adequately responds to the requirements of a radome, specifically when applied to millimeter wave astronomy. Finally, key areas of future work are identified which align with the limitations presented in this study.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Kevlar, Aramid, Radome, Millimeter, Radio astronomy, Instrumentation, Composite
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