A Photonic Controlled Beam Former for Phased Array Antennas

Ref: 14077
A beamforming array for radio frequency signals utilising a photonic control system.

Key advantages
  • Broad operation bandwidth, multiband capability
  • Seamless phase and amplitude control to offer high agility and flexibility
  • Multi-beam functionality with the potential for wavelength reuse
  • Low loss, immunity to electromagnetic interference
  • Smaller in size and lighter in weight


Phased array antenna devices comprise a group of radiating elements that are fed by relative phases of the respective microwave signals.

The radiation pattern can be steered by changing the relative phases of the signals without mechanically moving the antenna and this feature leads to many applications due to its agility and reliability.

Applying optically controlled beamforming techniques in the construction of phased array antennas offer various advantages to microwave systems, such as a wide operating bandwidth, low loss, compact size, remote antenna feeding, and immunity to electromagnetic interference.

The invention

The invention describes a new optically controlled beamforming network that offers advantages inherent only to photonics e.g. wideband frequency coverage and immunity to electromagnetic interference. The use of photonic techniques enables the simultaneous realization of array phase taper and amplitude taper.

Based on LCoS technology, the beamformer network is highly flexible and reconfigurable in terms of scanning directions and array factors thanks to the independent control of each individual microwave phase shifter in the array. The new beamformer also delivers high directivity, beam pointing agility, dynamic beam pattern shaping, and provides the capability of operating over a wide range of RF and microwave/millimetre wave frequencies.

Schematic of the photonic controlled beamforming network .

Schematic of the photonic controlled beamforming network .


Radar surveillance, mobile telecommunication services and airborne phased array antenna.

Principal inventors

Xiaoke Yi, Thomas Huang, Robert Minasian