Integrated Design and Simulation for Millimeter-Wave Antenna Systems

T. Cwik, D. S. Katz and F. J. Villegas

Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109-8099

Several instruments operating in the microwave and millimeter-wave bands are to be developed over the next several years at either JPL or JPL in conjunction with various other companies and laboratories. The design and development of these instruments requires an environment that can produce a microwave or millimeter-wave optics design, and can assess the sensitivity of key design criteria (beamwidth, gain, sidelobe levels, etc.) to thermal and mechanical operating environments. An integrated design tool has been developed to carry out the design and analysis using software building blocks from the computer-aided design, thermal, structural and electromagnetic analysis fields. The capability to simultaneously assess the effects of design parameter variation resulting from thermal and structural loads can reduce design and validation cost and generally lead to more optimal designs, hence higher performing instruments.

In this paper the development and application of MODTool (Millimeter-wave Optics Design), a design tool that efficiently integrates existing millimeter-wave optics design software with a solid body modeler and thermal/structural analysis packages, will be discussed. The design tool is also directly useful over other portions of the spectrum, though thermal or dynamical loads may have less influence on antenna patterns at the longer wavelengths. Under a common interface, interactions between the various components of a design can be efficiently evaluated and optimized. One key component is the use of physical optics analysis software for antenna pattern analysis. This software has been ported to various platforms including distributed memory parallel supercomputers to allow rapid turn-around for electrically large designs.