Phased array technology is currently applied in a many different applications. In all of these phased arrays, electronic technology is used for the transfer and processing of the signals. For increasing the bandwidth and frequency of these systems, the application of photonic technology is attractive thanks to its excellent performance in broad bandwidths and at higher frequencies.

General system design of the photonic smart antenna demonstrator system


General system design of the photonic smart antenna demonstrator system.


The goal in this project is to realise a smart antenna demonstrator tile for a 3 - 5 GHz astronomy instrumentation application, with a signal processing unit that is capable of handling the entire frequency band instantaneously with the required performance and at a proper cost level. For realising this goal, attention is focussed on the development of a 2-D photonic smart antenna, which is equipped with a broadband photonic beamformer for steering the antenna beam.

The performance and cost level requirements for the photonic smart antenna system can only be realised via the application of an integrated photonic signal processing system with application specific photonic integrated circuit (ASPIC) based components.

Within the photonic smart antenna that is to be developed, the beam-forming will be performed by a Silicon Photonics ASPIC which uses resonator based delay elements for realising the required time delay. The Silicon Photonics ASPIC will also be equipped with a number of modulators, which are used for the transfer of the RF signals from the electronic into the optical domain. The Silicon Photonics ASPIC will be provided by IBM research.

The light that is to be supplied to the modulators in the Silicon Photonics ASPIC is provided by an InP-based multi-wavelength laser. By using a multiple wavelength approach, wavelength multiplexing can be applied in the photonic smart antenna, which will result in a more compact and less complex ASPIC system in the smart antenna. The multi-wavelength ASPIC will be developed and fabricated by the University of Eindhoven.


Design: Kuenst.    Development: Dripl.    © 2021 ASTRON