Ferrite control components including circulators and isolators are fundamental building blocks of Transmit/Receive modules (TRM) utilized in high data rate active space transceivers and transponders for both long-range (LR) and low earth orbit (LEO) systems. These components are utilized to protect high power amplifiers (HPA) during the transmit cycle from destabilizing, and potentially harmful, power reflections from the antenna element. During receive cycle these components are utilized to direct lower power received signals with minimal attenuation to the low noise amplifiers (LNA). As such, performance specifications of these ferrite control components, such as bandwidth, insertion loss, isolation, power handling, temperature stability, radiation hardness, and linearity impose strict limitations on the overall system performance. Over the course of the proposed Ph1 SBIR program self-biased ferrite control components based on highly textured hexagonal ferrite compacts which have the potential to eliminate biasing magnets and significantly reduce the size, cost, and weight of the TRM while concurrently increasing power handling capability, and improving temperature stability and radiation hardness will be investigated. Specifically, a research and development path to realizing high performance self-biased ferrite materials and device designs for operation in space based environments at Ka-band (>27 GHz, 31.5 - 34 GHz targeted) is outlined.More »
Metamagnetics anticipates the use of self-biased radiation hardened Ka-band circulators where size, weight, power, and cost of ferrite components are the limiting factors. Metamagnetics components have the capability to influence the total price tag of the long range communication systems, particularly when thousands of T/R modules (TRM) are employed, as is often the case in phased array architectures such as those utilized in next generation observation missions including DESDynI (Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice), SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography), and HyspIRI (Hyperspectral Infrared Imager). Metamagnetics devices are designed to be radiation hardened and temperature stable without costly shielding making them ideal for low earth orbit (LEO) and long range space based communications platforms which require high data rates.
A prominent alternative application of ferrite circulators is in the front end of ground based Transmit/Receive Modules (TRMs) utilized in Active Electronically Steered Arrays (AESAs). Specifically, Metamagnetics circulators have higher power handling thresholds than commercially available semiconductor technologies making them ideal for corporate feed array structures. A single AESA system can utilize anywhere from 300 to over 35,000 TRMs, operating at frequencies from UHF to above Ka-band, each of which is equipped with at least one ferrite circulator. The role of the circulator is to forward the high-powered transmitted signal to the antenna while protecting the amplifier (HPA) from harmful reflections during the transmit cycle and pass the received signals with as little attenuation as possible to the low noise amplifier (LNA) in the receive cycle. Metamagnetics has already identified a series of prime industrial partners who are interested in integrating this technology as the TRL level is increased.
|Organizations Performing Work
Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
|Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)