Electrical and Computer Engineering ETDs


Derek Doyle

Publication Date



The space industry has predominantly relied on high gain reflector dish antenna apertures for performing communications, but is constantly investing in phase array antenna concepts to provide increased signal flexibility at reduced system costs in terms of finances and system resources. The problem with traditional phased arrays remains the significantly greater program cost and complexity added to the satellite by integrating arrays of antenna elements with dedicated amplifier and phase shifters to perform adaptive beam forming. Liquid Crystal Reflectarrays (LiCRas) offer some of the electrical beam forming capability of a phased array system with the component and design complexity in lines with a traditional reflector antenna aperture but without the risks associated with mechanical steering systems. The final solution is believed to be a hybrid approach that performs in between the boundaries set by the two current disparate approaches. Practical reflectarrays have been developed since the 90s as a means to control reflection of incident radiation off a flat structure that is electrically curved based on radiating elements and their reflection characteristics with tailored element phase delay. In the last decade several methods have been proposed to enable tunable reflectarrays where the electrical shape of the reflector can be steered by controlling the resonating properties of the elements on the reflector using a DC bias. These approaches range from complex fast switching MEMS and ferroelectric devices, to more robust but slower chemical changes. The aim of this work is to investigate the feasibility of a molecular transition approach in the form of liquid crystals which change permittivity based on the electrical field they are subjected to. In this work, particular attention will be paid to the impact of space environment on liquid crystal reflectarray materials and reflector architectures. Of particular interest are the effects on performance induced by the temperature extremes of space and the electromagnetic particle environment. These two items tend to drive much of the research and development for various space technologies and based on these physical influences, assertions can be made toward the space worthiness of such a material approach and can layout future R&D needs to make certain LC RF devices feasible for space use. Moreover, in this work the performance metrics of such a technology will be addressed along with methods of construction from a space perspective where specific design considerations must be made based on the extreme environment that a typical space asset must endure.'


Liquid Crystals, Space, antenna


Air Force Research Laboratories and Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Document Type




Degree Name

Electrical Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gilmore, Mark

Second Committee Member

Khraishi, Tariq

Third Committee Member

Arritt, Brandon