Ambient and cryogenic, decade bandwidth low noise receiving system for radio astronomy using sinuous antenna

Gawande, Rohit Sudhir, Department of Engineering, University of Virginia
Bradley, Richard, As-Astronomy, University of Virginia
Weikle, Robert, En-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Wilson, Stephen, En-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Fisher, James, As-Astronomy, University of Virginia
Barker, N., En-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Traditionally, radio astronomy receivers have been limited to bandwidths less than an octave, and as a result multiple feeds and receivers are necessary to observe over a wide bandwidth. Next generation of instruments for radio astronomy will benefit greatly from reflector antenna feeds that demonstrate very wide instantaneous bandwidth, and exhibit low noise behavior. There is an increasing interest in wideband systems from both the cost and science point of view. A wideband feed will allow simultaneous observations or sweeps over a decade or more bandwidth. Instantaneous wide bandwidth is necessary for detection of short duration pulses. Future telescopes like square kilometer array (SKA), consisting of 2000 to 3000 coherently connected antennas and covering a frequency range of 70 MHz to 30 GHz, will need decade bandwidth single pixel feeds (SPFs) along with integrated LNAs to achieve the scientific objectives in a cost effective way.

This dissertation focuses on the design and measurement of a novel decade bandwidth sinuous-type, dual linear polarized, fixed phase center, low loss feed with an integrated LNA. A decade bandwidth, low noise amplifier is specially designed for noise match to the higher terminal impedance encountered by this antenna yielding an improved sensitivity over what is possible with conventional 50 Ω amplifiers.

The self-complementary, frequency independent nature of the planar sinuous geometry results in a nearly constant beam pattern and fixed phase center over more than a 10:1 operating frequency range. In order to eliminate the back-lobe response over such a wide frequency range, we have projected the sinuous pattern onto a cone, and a ground plane is placed directly behind the cone's apex. This inverted, conical geometry assures wide bandwidth operation by locating each sinuous resonator a quarter wavelength above the - ground plane. The presence of a ground plane near a self-complementary antenna destroys the self-complementary nature of the composite structure resulting in frequency dependent impedance variations. We demonstrate, using simulations and measurements, how the return loss can be improved by modifying the sinuous geometry.

The feed-LNA combination is characterized for important properties such as return loss, system noise, far field beam patterns including cross-polarization over a wide frequency range. The system is developed as a feed for a parabolic reflector. The overall system performance is calculated in terms of the A/Tsys ratio.

A cryogenic version would have a direct impact on specialized observing applications requiring large instantaneous bandwidths with high sensitivity. A novel cryogenic implementation of this system is demonstrated using a Stirling cycle, one-stage refrigerator. The cryocooler offers advantages like low cost, light weight, small size, low power consumption, and does not require routine maintenance. The higher antenna input impedance and a balanced feeding method for the sinuous antenna offers a unique set of challenges when developing a cryogenic system.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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