Design, Analysis, And Characterization Of Metamaterial Quasi-Optical Components For Millimeter-Wave Automotive Radar

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Nguyen, Vinh Ngoc

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Since their introduction by Mercedes Benz in the late 1990s, W-band radars operating at 76-77 GHz have found their way into more and more passenger cars. These automotive radars are typically used in adaptive cruise control, pre-collision sensing, and other driver assistance systems. While these systems are usually only about the size of two stacked cigarette packs, system size, and weight remains a concern for many automotive manufacturers.

In this dissertation, I discuss how artificially structured metamaterials can be used to improve lens-based automotive radar systems. Metamaterials allow the fabrication of smaller and lighter systems, while still meeting the frequency, high gain, and cost requirements of this application. In particular, I focus on the development of planar artificial dielectric lenses suitable for use in place of the injection-molded lenses now used in many automotive radar systems.

I begin by using analytic and numerical ray-tracing to compare the performance of planar metamaterial GRIN lenses to equivalent aspheric refractive lenses. I do this to determine whether metamaterials are best employed in GRIN or refractive automotive radar lenses. Through this study I find that planar GRIN lenses with the large refractive index ranges enabled by metamaterials have approximately optically equivalent performance to equivalent refractive lenses for fields of view approaching ±20°. I also find that the uniaxial nature of most planar metamaterials does not negatively impact planar GRIN lens performance.

I then turn my attention to implementing these planar GRIN lenses at W-band automotive radar frequencies. I begin by designing uniform sheets of W-band electrically-coupled LC resonator-based metamaterials. These metamaterial samples were fabricated by the Jokerst research group on glass and liquid crystal polymer (LCP) substrates and tested at Toyota Research Institute- North America (TRI-NA). When characterized at W-band frequencies, these metamaterials show material properties closely matching those predicted by full-wave simulations.

Due to the high losses associated with resonant metamaterials, I shift my focus to non-resonant metamaterials. I discuss the design, fabrication, and testing of non-resonant metamaterials for fabrication on multilayer LCP printed circuit boards (PCBs). I then use these non-resonant metamaterials in a W-band planar metamaterial GRIN lens. Radiation pattern measurements show that this lens functions as a strong collimating element.

Using similar lens design methods, I design a metamaterial GRIN lens from polytetrafluoroethylene-based (PTFE-based) non-resonant metamaterials. This GRIN lens is designed to match a target dielectric lens's radiation characteristics across a ±6° field of view. Measurements at automotive radar frequencies show that this lens has approximately the same radiation characteristics as the target lens across the desired field of view.

Finally, I describe the development of electrically reconfigurable metamaterials using thin-film silicon semiconductors. These silicon-based reconfigurable metamaterials were developed in close collaboration with several other researchers. My major contribution to the development of these reconfigurable metamaterials consisted of the initial metamaterial design. The Jokerst research group fabricated this initial design while TRI-NA characterized the fabricated metamaterial experimentally. Measurements showed approximately 8% variation in transmission under a 5 Volt DC bias. This variation in transmission closely matched the variation in transmission predicted by coupled electronic-electromagnetic simulation run by Yaroslav Urzhumov, one of other contributors to the development of the reconfigurable metamaterial.





Nguyen, Vinh Ngoc (2013). Design, Analysis, And Characterization Of Metamaterial Quasi-Optical Components For Millimeter-Wave Automotive Radar. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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