Antenna with Addressable Pixel Elements

A programmable antenna for rapid application switching

The Need

Development of reconfigurable antennas is desired by the aerospace, automotive, and communications industries. Current designs utilize a set of radiating elements connected to a transmission line with embedded amplitude and phase shift elements. An alternative technique is to use antenna modules with imbedded phase and gain characteristics. However, these designs are restricted due to the fixed geometry of the array of radiating elements and configuration of transmission lines. There is a need for an antenna that can rapidly change operational frequency band, pointing angle, gain, beamwidth, and polarization.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Walton, developed a panel on which an antenna can be created or modified in less than a millisecond. The system uses strip lines as transmission lines, couplers and various patch antennas to form antenna arrays. These strip lines and patch antennas are made of addressable pixels. The pixels are formed using small segments, small particles or even small bubbles of plasma. With this advancement, it is possible to create a satellite antenna and steer the beam to track the satellite, then rapidly switch to an alternate application, such as GPS or communication.

Commercial Applications

  • Aerospace systems
  • Automotive vehicles
  • Communications and networking


  • Programmable/reconfigurable antenna
  • Modification takes less than a millisecond
  • Low cost, low weight, low power solution to the multiple antenna problem
  • Can serve for communication, navigation (GPS), linkages (LAN's), and sensing (radar)

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