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Ultra-Wideband Antenna Applications in Communication Systems

Key Takeaways

  • UWB wireless communication transmits a huge amount of data over a wide frequency spectrum.

  • The replacement of multiple narrow-band antennas by a single UWB antenna reduces multi-antenna interference and saves antenna space. 

  • Omni-directional UWB antennas enable efficient communication between a transmitter and receiver in all directions.

Antenna graphic

The term ultra-wideband (UWB) applies to any signal, system, or technology where the bandwidth exceeds more than 500MHz or the fractional bandwidth is greater than 20%. As the name suggests, UWB communication utilizes wide bandwidth and supports high data rates.

Recently, ultra-wideband antenna applications have grown to include a wide range of computing devices and Internet of Things (IoT) peripherals. Most of these wireless communication systems employ a UWB antenna for data transmission, reception, positioning, location identification, sensing, and tracking. Depending on the radiation characteristics of the communication system, UWB antenna design varies and each application requires customized UWB antennas. In this article, we will take a closer look at UWB antenna characteristics, advantages, and applications. 

Ultra-Wideband Communication 

Revolutionary advances in impulse technology and low power communication systems, along with the availability of unlicensed frequency bands, have made UWB the leading technology for short-range wireless communication. The inherent characteristics of UWB technology—such as high data rate, wide bandwidth, reduced fading from multipath, low cost, and low power consumption—make it useful for capturing highly accurate spatial and directional data.

UWB wireless communication transmits a huge amount of data over a wide frequency spectrum between 3.1 to 10.6GHz. UWB communication mainly uses low-powered radio signals of short pulses for the transmission and reception of data. UWB antennas enable the effective use of the bandwidth in high data rates—personal area network wireless connectivities, wide-range, low data rate communication, and radar and imaging systems.

Given these many advantages, UWB antennas are widely used in a range of applications.

Ultra-Wideband Antenna Application Advantages

Ultra-wideband antenna applications have become increasingly popular and widely used, partly due to the recent boom in wireless communication, wireless portable devices, and smart consumer electronics. Research on UWB antenna design is ongoing, with the hopes that new advancements can further improve UWB communication systems.

So, why are UWB antennas so widely used? Part of their appeal is due to the following advantages:

  • High data rates
  • Low power consumption
  • Low cost
  • Effective at achieving broad bandwidth, especially compared to conventional narrow-band antennas

Additionally, using UWB antennas eliminates the need for multi-narrow band antennas, as a single UWB antenna can satisfy different frequencies, transmission functions, and operation bands. This reduces multi-antenna interference and saves antenna space. It is important to note that to best capitalize on UWB antennas’ many advantages, it is important to carefully design these antennas for the specific needs of each system.

UWB Antenna Design

The overall performance of a UWB system is dependent on the design of the UWB antenna. UWB antenna design is influenced by the radiation pattern used in a communication system, and UWB antennas can be classified by this pattern. Two of these classifications are:

  1. Directional radiation pattern - In directional UWB antennas, the transmission and reception of signals with high power are confined to specific directions. The directional radiation pattern increases the performance of the antenna and reduces interference. A Vivaldi antenna is an example of a co-planar UWB antenna with a directional radiation pattern.
  2. Omni-directional radiation pattern - Omni-directional UWB antennas enable efficient communication between a transmitter and receiver in all directions. These types of antennas are suitable for indoor wireless communication and mobile devices. 

Other types of UWB antennas include log periodic, spiral, mono-conical, and biconical antennas. Given all the ultra-wideband antenna applications possible, it is important to design UWB antennas with a specific system in mind. Luckily, Cadence software can help in the design of system-specific 3D, 2D, and planar UWB antennas.

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