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Study of multilayer microstrip antennas with radiating elements of various geometry

J.P. Damiano

J. Bennegueouche

A. Papiernik

Indexing terms: Antennas (microstrip)

Abstract: A study of multilayer microstrip antennas fed by coaxial probe or microstrip line is presented. The method developed is applicable to structures with stacked or offset radiating ele- ments of various shapes including rectangles, discs and triangles. Theoretical and experimental results of input impedance are given for the different structures. Radiation information is presented and the relative merits of different structures are dis- cussed.



Numerous publications on theoretical and experimental single-layer microstrip antennas whose radiating ele- ments are of arbitrary shape are available [1-6]. Theo- retical results on multilayer antennas with stacked patches are readily available [7-14], but those concern- ing structures with two different shaped patches are infre- quent [10]. Experimental studies have been published on stacked elements which are rectangular [9, 10, 15-18], circular [19-22], and triangular [23, 24]. The present theoretical study is based on a reaction integral equation solved in the spectral domain using the method of moments [9, 10, 13]. This method can be applied to multilayer structures with stacked or offset radiating elements which can be of different shapes (Fig. 1). The antenn a is fed by a coaxial prob e or microstrip

Fig. 1

Some multilayer microstrip antenna structures

Paper 7258H (Ell), first received 31st July 1989 and in revised form 12th January 1990 The authors are with the Laboratoire d'Electronique, Universite de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, CNRS, SPI, Rue Albert Einstein, 06560 Val- bonne, France

IEE PROCEEDINGS, Vol. 137, Pt. H, No. 3, JUNE 1990

line. We compute the input impedance and the radiation pattern of such structures.



The objective is to determine the radioelectric character- istics (in particular the input impedance) and the radi- ation patterns of microstrip antennas. This information is obtained from knowledge of the surface currents on the radiating elements. These are computed by solving a reaction integral equation expressed in the spectral domain using the Galerkin's method of moments. The

interface fields are expressed as functions of these surface currents using the dyadic Green's functions which account for substrate characteristics and various bound- ary conditions. The surface currents are decomposed into

a series of eigenfunctions depending on the conductor shape.

The following definition was used for the bidimension-

al Fourier transforms:



where k 0 = 2Yl/X 0 = co/c. The term e* mt is omitted in the following analysis.

2.1 Computation of surface currents

The reaction integral equation [25] which determines the surface currents J x and J 2 on conductors 1 and 2, respec- tively, from the feed current / F (Fig. 2) is written as



E T J t dS+ \ E T J 2 ds+

JS 2

JVF E T J F dV =




where S t and S 2

respectively. V F is the volume of the feed, and E T rep- resents the electric field generated by a test current located on one of the conductors. E T is computed using the general relation between the surface currents J x and J 2 and the electric field E in the spectral domain:

are the areas of conductors 1 and 2,

E =


where G ij are the dyadic Green's functions obtained from the application of continuity equations to the tangent

fields and from

computation of the electric field E on conductor i, gener- ated by a unit electric current on conductor). The solution of the integral equation in the spectral domain is achieved using a Galerkin's method of moments [26, 27], in which the test currents are assumed

the radiation condition. <7 J enables the


identical to the basis currents. The surface currents are decomposed onto a basis of eigenfunctions related to the geometry of the radiating elements:



n = l

where N x and N 2 represent the total number of basis functions on conductors 1 and 2, respectively. I in and I 2n are the coefficients of the basis functions. These are the unknowns.

Fig. 2

Cross-section of multilayer antenna for two radiating elements

The choice of these basis functions is of prime impor- tance [28, 29] as it conditions the stability and con- vergence of the moment method. These functions are defined over the entire surface of the radiating element. The centre of gravity of the lower element is taken as the origin of the (x, y) co-ordinates. Theoretical expressions of several functions are given in Cartesian or polar coor- dinates, for different shapes:

(a) Rectangle: Currents J x and J 2 are decomposed into

a double Fourier series for which the generic term (p, q) is written in the OX direction, type (p, q) is

In the OY direction, type (p, q) is


where p = 1, 2,

Fig. 3 illustrated the behaviour of several different types of basis functions (types (10), (20), and (21) in the OX direction, and type (30) in the OY direction).

(b) Disc: Two types of basis functions are considered:

solenoidal and irrotational. This choice is necessary so as

to obtain a complete basis in the decomposition of the

and q = 0, 1,


surface currents. Below are the expressions of the func- tions used for the various types of TM mn modes.



Fig. 3




Some basisfunctions for a rectangular radiating element

TM mn mode (irrotational type):

f r (r,

0) = "i r J'nl x' mn -)

J'Jx' mn )

= 0

n=l,2 ,

cos md


= 0, 1, 2,

TM mn mode (solenoidal type):

f r (r,

0) =


Jm( x mn) = 0




w =


x mn ^


1, 2,

) cos rnO


m = 0, 1, 2,




Figs. 4a and b show the radial and azimuthal com- ponents of the irrotational and solenoidal type basis functions (TM n , TM 2i ) in polar coordinates, respec- tively.

(c) Equilateral triangle: The first two modes TM 10 and

T M n are considered. Eqns. 8-11 give the expressions of the basis functions.

TM l0


The X component is an even function of Y

fy( x >

TM l0


si n




l a

I -



s i n



T ^

T ^






The X component is an odd function of Y


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TM n mode:

The X component is an even function of Y

Mx, y) = sm

TM tl mode:





cos (^ j cos


The X component is an odd finction of Y

fx( x > y) = co s



—7^ ) s m

W 3 /

Anx \


V a J








TM n

TM 21










TM 21

Fig. 4


Some basis functions for a disc radiating element


Vol. 137, Pt. H, No. 3, JUNE


Fig. 5 shows the variations of the basis functions whose X components are even functions of Y.












Fig. 5

Some basis functions for a

triangular radiating element

Once the surface currents are decomposed onto a basis of functions, and eqn. 2 is rewritten in the spectral domain, application of the Galerkin's method of moments yields a matrix system of the form:


1= V


in which the Z matrix can be expressed as



"Lz 21

z i2 i





An element of ZP q represents the reaction of a test current on conductor p with a basis current on conductor q. The expression of an element of Z 1 " 1 is given as



JJ -- oo


Similarly, an element of V represents the reaction of a test current on one of the conductors with the feed current

+ oo

r +

00 J~<

L*, P)}M-",


da dp


The solution of eqn. 12 yields values for the unknown coefficients I ln and I 2n . All of the elements of Z and V must be computed before, which demands the bulk of the CPU time required by the program developed. A study of the symmetry of the integrand can offer a significant reduction in the number of elements which must actually be computed. The numerical integration is to be con- ducted with considerable precaution. The existence of poles caused by surface waves requires the integration contour to be modified. The basis functions and the fact that radiating elements may be offset also cause strong oscillations in the behaviour of the integrands. A com- prehensive study of integrand behaviour and an effort to

determine the best way of dividing the integration domain are of key importance [29] for these reasons.


2.2 Computation of input impedance

The input impedance Z in of a microstrip antenna fed by a current of intensity I 0 (A) is given by



J 0




Using the decomposition of surface currents / x and J 2 onto a basis of functions J ln and J 2n we are able to write the expression of Z in as follows


= l

n = l


The resonant frequency is defined as the frequency at which the real part of Z in reaches a maximum.

A good evaluation of the input impedance can gener-

ally be achieved using a small number of basis functions

on each of the conductors. This requires a judicious selec- tion of which basis functions are to be introduced. Table 1 presents the relative importance of the basis function coefficients for a two-layer structure comprising two rec- tangular radiating elements. The lower element is edge- fed on the median by a coaxial probe. It can be observed that the basis functions of types (10) and (12) along the OX axis are preponderant.

A similar evaluation can also be performed for disk-

disk structures. It is possible to define the number and the type of basis functions useful in the calculation of the antenna characteristics.

Table 1 : Weighted valves of basis function coefficient for two square radiating elements




Coupling loop



frequencies, GHz















lower fed



























upper patch




















2.3 Computation of radiation patterns

We use the aperture theory for the computation of the far field. The components of the tangential electric field, E tx

and E ty , are known in the spectral domain, at the last interface. The expressions of the copolar and crosspolar components of the far field are


k o r

(E tx (a, 2me~ }kor


P) cos (0) + E ty {a,

P) sin (<£))

- ^

(-E tx ( a ,P)sin{d>)

+ E ty (a, p) cos (<£)) cos (0)


The determination of the level of the crosspolar com- ponents is obtained with a selection of the basis func- tions.





Rectangle-rectangle structure

This type of structure is classical. Fig. 6a show our theo- retical results and the experimental measures reported in Reference 14 of the input impedance for an antenna in which the upper element is offset with respect to the lower element. A single function on each conductor is insufficient to account for the offset. We therefore chose three functions in the OX direction (10), (12) and (20) and two functions in the OY direction (20) and (21). The mea- surements reported in are in good agreement with our computed results. The frequency band is 1.9-3.25 GHz. The experimental resonance frequencies appear about

2.06 and 2.95 GHz. A 1 % relative error was obtained

with our theoretical results. The computed imaginary part is greater than that measured: at lower frequencies by about 40 Q, and by 20 Q at higher frequencies. Fig. 6b shows a comparison between our theoretical radiation patterns in the E and H planes, at the second theoretical resonance frequency, for the two cases of dis- placement: 0 cm and 1 cm, along the OX direction. In the case of null displacement, the components are symmetri- cal. For an offset, the E-plane copolar components exhibit asymmetry: a peak at 30° in the same side as the displacement of the upper patch. The crosspolar com- ponent level is higher than in the case of null offset (-32 dB instead of -4 0 dB). An experimental study of the influence of displace- ments of patches have already been conducted [13] and the conclusions are developed relative to the merits of the different structures.

3.2 Square-disc structure

This type of structure is original (Fig. 7a). The lower element is a square and edge-fed on the median; the upper element is a disc. The two elements are stacked and centred. Fig. 1b shows our theoretical and experi- mental results for the input impedance in the frequency band 3.6-3.9 GHz. The basis functions used are type (10) and (20) in the OX direction and (20) in OY direction for the square and TM n (irrotational and solenoidal types) for the disc. Satisfactory agreement was achieved between theory and experiment. Only a few modes are necessary and give good results because the frequency band is narrow. Additive modes do not significantly alter the results. Fig. 1c shows the theoretical variations of the copolar and crosspolar components in the E and H planes, at 3.7 GHz. The level of the crosspolar maximal value is less than — 40 dB. At this frequency, the antenna is near enough to the adaption.

3.3 Disc-disc structure

In this case, the antenna is made up of two stacked, centred disc shaped elements; the upper element is fed by a coaxial probe (Fig. 8a). The frequency band is 2.1- 4.2 GHz. Figs. 8fc and c give our theoretical and experi- mental curves for the real and imaginary parts of the input impedance. The basis functions used are the TM n and TM 21 modes (both of the irrotational and solenoidal types) and the TM 02 mode (irrotational type exists only). At the first resonance (around 2.25 GHz) a relatively good agreement is observed between theory and experi- ment (under 1%). At the second resonance, measured at about 3.75 GHz, there is a difference of 0.15 GHz with respect to the theory (an error about 4%). This difference can be explained structurally, as the antenna is fed by the

IEE PROCEEDINGS, Vol. 137, Pt. H, No. 3, JUNE







frequency, GHz




(H) 1

crosspolar component


phase, degrees


Fig. 6

Characteristics of two layer microstrip antenna

e rI « 2.5; tgS t

= 0.003; W, =

1.59 mm

B r2 = 2.5; tgS 2 = 0.003; H 2 = 1.59 mm Wx { = Wx 2 = 3.7 cm; Wy y = Wy 2 = 4.5 cm Offset in the OX direction = 1 cm Lower patch feed X r = -1.5 cm; d 0 = 0.65 mm; Z o = 50


Frequency band 1.9-3.25 GHz a Input impedance b Copolar and crosspolar


EXP! R e



lm— —

(1) 1 cm offset in the OX direction (2.98 GHz) (2) Null offset in the OX direction (2.515 GHz)

IEE PROCEEDINGS, Vol. 137, Pt. H, No. 3, JUNE 1990





crosspolar component


phase, degrees


Fig. 7 Characteristic of microstrip antenna comprised of a lower square patch and a disc shaped upper patch

a Geometry

b Input impedance e rl = e r2 = 2.33; tg& t = tg6 2 = 0.0012; H t =H 2 = 1.59 mm Lower patch feed X F = 1.16 cm, d 0 = 0.65 mm, Z o = 50 fl Frequency band 3.6-3.9 GHz

c Radiation patterns at 3.7 GHz


upper radiating element. The electric length of the coaxial probe (3.06 mm) introduces distorsion in the calculation of the resonant frequencies. In the theory, we have assumed that the current is constant (intensity equal to J o ) along the coaxial probe. This assumption leads to some errors in the determination of the resonant fre-

Fig. 8 Characteristic of two disc-shaped radiating patches


1.53 mm Upper patch feed X F = 1.9 cm, d 0 Frequency band 2.1-4.2 GHz

a Geometry

b Real input impedance

c Imaginary input impedance

R 2 = 2.5cm;

e ri

= e, 2 = 2.2;

tg5 x = tgS 2 = 0.001;

50 fi

0.32 mm, Z o =


H l =H 2

quency. The maxima are approximately the same in the theory and in practise.

3.4 Triangle-triangle structure

Few studies on triangular patches antennas, in multilayer

structures, have been reported in the literature [23, 24]. The antenna is made up of two stacked, centred equi- lateral triangles of the same size (Fig. 9a). The feed is coaxial, located in the middle of the lower element. Our computed results yield a smaller size loop but not frequency (Fig. 9b) with respect to our measurements. The experimental loop is in the range 3.05-3.27 GHz.


basis functions introduced concern the TM 10 mode

whose component along OX varies symmetrically with y. The introduction of other functions does not give notice- ably better theoretical results. The difference between

Fig. 9 Characteristic of two triangle shaped radiating elements

a t =a 2

Lower triangle feed X F = -0.14 cm, d 0 = 0.65 mm, Z o = 50 O

Frequency band 3.0-3.3 GHz

a Geometry

b Input impedance

= 3.98 cm; e rl = e r2 = 2.2; tg& l = tgd 2 = 0.0012; H t =H 2

= 1.524 mm

IEE PROCEEDINGS, Vol. 137, Pt. H, No. 3, JUNE 1990

computed and measured results can be explained by the feed location which, when varied slightly, causes major changes in input resistance values at resonance and by the fact the phenomena between the two triangular patches are more complex than the classical structure.

4 Discussion on the different structures

We expose some remarks on the behaviour of the studied structures. We also give a methodology for the antenna designer with the relative merits of the various shapes. The measurements give a complete physical state of the tested antenna. The theory gives only a state close to the reality under the condition the initial assumptions are respected. The theory allows many tests on the value of the electric parameters and this enables examination of the best values for the requested performance. In Fig. 10 we present the options for the antenna designer to use in evaluating the different operations with













influence of D2

[ adjustment of the geometrical and [physical parameters

influence of XF Re(Zin)res.

edge of a rectangle or of a disk


desired performances

obtained ?


Fig. 10

Antenna design considerations


Vol. 137, Pt. H, No. 3, JUNE 1990


centre of


the aim to realise a double-layered microstrip antenna. The frequency band is F L -F H GHz. The dimensions of the patches are D x and D 2 for the lower and upper element, respectively. The thickness of the dielectric sub- strates are H t and H 2 for the lower and the upper layer, respectively. At the same resonant frequency we compute a single layer microstrip antenna with a different shaped-element to determine the optimal dimensions of the radiating element. The square presents the smallest maximal dimension (the diagonal, with the ratio 1:1). The dia- meter of the disk gives the ratio 1.61. An equilateral tri- angle presents the greatest ratio of 1.89 (its edge). On the other hand, the equilateral triangle presents the smallest area (ratio 1:1). The square gives the ratio 1.29 and the disk 1.32. These values give an idea of the ratio between the various geometries and vary with the dielectric sub- strate and the resonant frequency chosen. Other authors [30] have also studied the behaviour of the square and

influence of e r2

influence of H2



the disk with analytic methods for the case of two radi- ating elements are the same resonant frequency, with respect to the imput impedance and the radiation pat- terns. It is possible to find a disc element whose radioel- ectric characteristics are better than those of a square element. Investigations in the study of the different two-layer shaped structures reveal some interesting features. To obtain a lower level of crosscopolar components, it is necessary to avoid the equilateral triangular shape. A larger bandwidth may be achieved by varying the value

of H x and H 2 and adjusting e r2 . An

sation is obtained by using two disk shaped elements or a mixed structure, e.g. fed-square lower element and a disk upper element. To obtain smaller values of real part of

the input impedance at the resonances it is necessary to vary the localisation of the feed point and adjust it. A faster simulation of the theoretical antenna is provided by using two square shape elements and then computing the equivalent geometry of the desired elements.

It is possible to use a subarray of circular patches and

another of square patches about the original mixed struc- ture provided the radiation characteristics are not too strict. The association of square and disk shapes could

also help in more easily obtaining the same radiation pat- terns in E and H planes for the copolar components and consequently, a circular polarisation.

If the case of nonoffset elements is classical enough,

the case of offset elements is less well known. A shift in

the OX and OY direction has a significant impact on both input impedance and radiation patterns. Displace- ment along the OX direction (corresponding to the E-plane feed on the OX axis), causes asymmetry in the E plane copolar component. Displacement along the OY direction (corresponding to the H plane) should cause asymmetry in the H plane copolar component. If the bandwidth is poor with exactly superposed elements, a displacement in the current direction generates a better bandwidth [13]. Investigation of the radiation phenome- non is useful in determining alignment tolerances in stacked radiating elements. It gives an indication of admissable misalignment of elements during fabrication, which appears to cause negligible perturbation in the radiation pattern.

A further application is the development of structures

made up of two offset passive elements, mounted sym- metrically with respect to the lower fed element which

would enable pattern symmetry to be maintained. Very small offsets need more basis functions and therefore more computer processing time.

easier circular polari-

5 Conclusion

A theoretical study of multilayer microstrip antennas was presented. The method is applied to structures containing differently shaped patches. Numerous comparisons with experimental results were conducted for the input imped- ance, and information on the radiation patterns is given. The merits of various shapes are discussed and design rules are given for the antenna designer.




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