Press Releases > Integrated microplasmas for rapidly-tunable microwave switches and antennas

Integrated microplasmas for rapidly-tunable microwave switches and antennas

Press Release

Press Release

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI), has been awarded a research program from the U.S. Navy – Naval Air Warfare Center to design and develop plasma-tunable switches and antennas, all fabricated directly on conventional microwave substrates.

PSI’s switch design will be operable over the full S band. The antenna center frequency is anticipated to be tunable over the same frequency range, and PSI’s goal is for both devices to support operation at up to 100 W of power. The plasma tuning elements are based on the novel application of highly-conductive, rapidly-switchable microwave-driven plasma discharges. These plasmas act as adjustable capacitors, enabling tuning across a broad frequency range. Plasma switching / tuning speeds will exceed electromechanical devices by approximately three orders of magnitude, while targeted power handling capabilities will exceed that of typical semiconductor-based components by two orders of magnitude. The combination of the best characteristics of electro-mechanical and semiconductor switching and tuning approaches will allow these devices to occupy a unique and critical space in the microwave communications market.

Plasma-based microwave switches and plasma-tuned microwave antennas offer the potential to operate at the speed of semiconductor-controlled components, but without the power limitations. They are, therefore, an enabling technology for high-power, frequency-agile Navy communications systems that would allow continued operation in contested electromagnetic environments.

For more information, contact:

Dr. David Oakes
Group Leader, Aero Thermal Signatures
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003