Dynamic Metasurface Apertures for Computational Imaging
Microwave imaging platforms conventionally take the form of antenna arrays or synthetic apertures. Inspired by methods in the optical regime, computational microwave imaging has recently taken hold as an alternative approach that uses spatially-diverse waveforms to multiplex scene information. In this dissertation, we use dynamic metasurface apertures to demonstrate improved hardware characteristics and capabilities in computational microwave imaging systems. In particular, we demonstrate waveguide-fed and cavity-backed dynamic metasurface apertures. A waveguide-fed dynamic metasurface aperture consists of a waveguide device loaded with numerous independently tunable metamaterial elements, each of which couples energy from the guided mode into a reconfigurable radiation pattern. We explicate design considerations for a waveguide-fed dynamic metasurface aperture, optimize its usage, and utilize it in computational imaging. In addition, we leverage the dynamic aperture's agility to demonstrate through-wall imaging and beamforming for synthetic aperture radar. Significant attention is also devoted to imaging with a single frequency, an approach which can ease the complexity and improve the performance of the required RF components.
Expanding on the waveguide-fed instantiation, we investigate cavity-backed dynamic apertures. These apertures employ disordered cavity modes to feed a multitude of radiating elements. We investigate this approach with two structures: a volumetric cavity, where we tune the boundary condition, and a planar PCB-based cavity, where the radiating elements are tuned. Capable of generating diverse radiation patterns, we use these structures to assess the utility of dynamic tuning in computational imaging systems. Many of the architectures studied in this dissertation chart a path toward a low-cost dynamic aperture with a favorable form factor, a platform which provides immense control over its emitted fields for a variety of microwave applications.
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