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Anatech Electronics October 2019 Newsletter

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Anatech Electronics Header: October 2019 Newsletter


Sam Benzacar of Anatech Electronics, an RF and microwave filter company, has published his October newsletter that features his short op−ed entitled "Coming: Plasma Antennas." Plasma antennas have been appearing in the news items I collect, and Sam does a pretty good job summarizing their operation and benefits. One feature I do not recall seeing elsewhere is that in the "off" state, the plasma antenna presents a very small radar cross section (RCS), which is strategically advantageous for stealth aircraft (and surface ships). In other news, Sam includes other news related to our RF industry.

A Word from Sam Benzacar

Anatech Electronics October  2019 Newsletter (Sam Benzacar) - RF Cafe

Coming: Plasma Antennas

By Sam Benzacar

If you think there cannot possibly be any radically new antennas in the works, you'll be surprised to learn, as I did, that there are, and one of the most "far out" is the plasma antenna. The name alone connotes something more likely to be found on the Starship Enterprise, but plasma antennas are real - and impressive.

Gases are typically insulators and not conductive. However, when they're exposed to heat or electromagnetic energy a plasma is created through ionization in which atoms are converted to ions and electrons. In contrast to its former state, a plasma is conductive which provides its appeal for use with systems operating in the electromagnetic spectrum, including antennas. A plasma antenna can perform the same functions as conventional array antennas with fewer components and at lower cost, including steering and beamforming, have demonstrated operation at millimeter-wave frequencies, and can handle a considerable amount of RF power.

Plasma Antennas (Anatech Electronics) - RF CafeWhat sets a plasma antenna even further apart from any other type is that when it's turned off it becomes nearly invisible, making it extremely difficult to detect by radar, as its radar cross section essentially consists of just the material in which the plasma is contained, such as glass. That is, when the energy source is removed the plasma becomes a neutral non-conductive gas, a process that takes just milliseconds. Plasma antennas can also have low side lobes that further decrease their likelihood of being jammed. The technology has other benefits as well.

There are two basic types of plasma antennas, semiconductor and gaseous, the former the first to be developed (but still valid) and the latter recent fabricated using silicon fabrication processes to create what's called a plasma silicon antenna (PsiAN). This device consists of huge numbers of diodes that when activated individually generate a cloud of electrons, forming a plasma.

Each cloud reflects RF energy like a mirror and if the diodes are selectively activated the shape of this "reflector" can be changed rapidly to focus and steer a beam. The antennas are very small, at 28 GHz measuring about 10 mm in diameter and 4 mm at 60 GHz and produce very high forward gain. If lower gain can be accommodated the antenna can be radiated directly by the chip. Several companies are developing this technology and have commercialized their designs, and as DoD is obviously extremely interested in plasma antennas it's likely we'll be hearing about them a lot more in the future. 

FCC OKs CBRS Deployments - RF CafeFCC OKs CBRS Deployments

The FCC has approved the Spectrum Access Systems (SASs) operated by Google, Federated Wireless, CommScope, Amdocs, and Sony for managing Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) networks. CBRS is the Next Big Band for wireless carriers, Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), private LTE networks, and cable operators looking to deploy their own cellular services. In addition, there are many other possible use cases for the band, as it offers a tiered structure consisting of licensed and unlicensed operators. As the SAS is the essential element for managing CBRS devices to keep them from interfering with Navy radar systems, the FCC approval is a major step forward.


Microwave Energy for Plastic Recycling - RF CafeMicrowave Energy for Plastic Recycling

A European research project is testing a way to make recycling PET plastic (used to make packaging, soda bottles, and clothing) more effective by combining microwave technology with a chemical reaction. The degradation of PET is called depolymerization and the first step in the process uses microwave energy to convert PET waste into hydrolyzed plastic. The plastic is then separated from other materials, which allows them to be renewed for further use. This is done using a complicated purification process. The project is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 program.


A Microwave Weed Killer - RF CafeA Microwave Weed Killer

University of Melbourne researcher Dr. Graham Brodie has invented a device that uses microwave energy to control weeds, reducing the need for herbicides. By using microwave energy to heat the water particles within a weed, the vibrations cause the plant cell walls to explode, killing the plant. But the challenge is to translate the concept into a product that can work in the field over large areas without using too much energy.

To meet that challenge, Brodie has designed an antenna that can effectively deliver microwave energy specifically into the weeds, as well as into the ground itself to pre-treat soil before crops are sown. The technology reportedly not only kills weeds but also eliminates dormant seeds, according to Brodie, who has spent the last 5 years improving his invention, testing it on more than 25 species of weed including ryegrass, barnyard grass, bellyache bush, hemlock, wild radish, wild oats, and fleabane.

The antenna confines the microwave energy closely to the surface of the ground, and as the system is modular it can attach to tractors. The product has been commercialized with investment from Grains Research & Development Corporation, resulting in a company called GroWave.


Air Force Develops THOR to Kill Drones - RF CafeAir Force Develops THOR to Kill Drones

The Air Force Research Laboratory recently demonstrated an electromagnetic weapon called the Tactical High-power Operational Responder (THOR) designed to disable drones. It was shown at the recent Air Force Association Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, and has been built and tested on military test ranges near Kirtland AFB, where it has successfully engaged multiple targets. Further testing against a larger set of drone types in swarming configurations is planned.

THOR could be useful in attacks like those on Saudi oil fields in which multiple drones of different sizes made it possible for the larger ones to shadow the smaller ones, protecting them from radar detection. THOR stores in a 20-foot transport container that can be transported in a C-130 and can be set up in 3 hours, according to AFRL. THOR cost about $15 million to develop


Getting Ready for 5G:

Anatech Electronics introduce New Ka band 30.5 GHz Waveguide Band Pass Filter. Featuring a center frequency of 30.5 GHz, a bandwidth of 1000 MHz, an Insertion Loss 1 dB Max, and a Power Handling is 20 watts.

Ka band 30.5GHz Waveguide Band Pass Filter - RF Cafe

Anatech Electronics Introduces a New Line of Suspended Stripline and Waveguide Type RF Filters

Anatech Electronics Waveguide Filters - RF Cafe

LINKS: Waveguide Bandstop & Waveguide Bandpass 

Anatech Electronics Suspended Stripline Filters - RF Cafe

LINKS:  Suspended Stripline Highpass  & Suspended Stripline Lowpass

Check out Our Filter Products

Anatech Electronics Cavity Band Pass Filters       Anatech Electronics LC Bandpass Filters - RF Cafe       Anatech Electronics Cavity Bandpass/Notch Filters - RF Cafe

    Cavity Band Pass Filters             LC Band Pass Filters           Cavity Bandstop/Notch Filter

About Anatech Electronics

Anatech Electronics, Inc. (AEI) specializes in the design and manufacture of standard and custom RF and microwave filters and other passive components and subsystems employed in commercial, industrial, and aerospace and applications. Products are available from an operating frequency range of 10 kHz to 30 GHz and include cavity, ceramic, crystal, LC, and surface acoustic wave (SAW), as well as power combiners/dividers, duplexers and diplexers, directional couplers, terminations, attenuators, circulators, EMI filters, and lightning arrestors. The company's custom products and capabilities are available at www.anatechelectronics.com.


Anatech Electronics, Inc.

70 Outwater Lane

Garfield, NJ 07026

(973) 772-4242




Posted October 17, 2019

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