Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems conventionally rely on mechanically-actuated reflector dishes or large phased arrays for generating steerable directive beams. While these systems have yielded high-resolution images, the hardware suffers from considerable weight, high cost, substantial power consumption, and moving parts. Since these disadvantages are particularly relevant in airborne and spaceborne systems, a flat, lightweight, and low-cost solution is a sought-after goal. Dynamic metasurface antennas have emerged as a recent technology for generating waveforms with desired characteristics. Metasurface antennas consist of an electrically-large waveguide loaded with numerous subwavelength radiators which selectively leak energy from a guided wave into free space to form various radiation patterns. By tuning each radiating element, we can modulate the aperture’s overall radiation pattern to generate steered directive beams, without moving parts or phase shifters. Furthermore, by using established manufacturing methods, these apertures can be made to be lightweight, low-cost, and planar, while maintaining high performance. In addition to their hardware benefits, dynamic metasurfaces can leverage their dexterity and high switching speeds to enable alternative SAR modalities for improved performance. In this work, we briefly discuss how dynamic metasurfaces can conduct existing SAR modalities with similar performance as conventional systems from a significantly simpler hardware platform. We will also describe two additional modalities which may achieve improved performance as compared to traditional modalities. These modalities, enhanced resolution stripmap and diverse pattern stripmap, offer the ability to circumvent the trade-off between resolution and region-of-interest size that exists within stripmap and spotlight. Imaging results with a simulated dynamic metasurface verify the benefits of these modalities and a discussion of implementation considerations and noise effects is also included. Ultimately, the hardware gains coupled with the additional modalities well-suited to dynamic metasurface antennas has poised them to propel the SAR field forward and open the door to exciting opportunities.
Michael Boyarsky, Timothy Sleasman, Laura Pulido-Mancera, Mohammadreza F. Imani, Matthew S. Reynolds, and David R. Smith, "Alternative synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modalities using a 1D dynamic metasurface antenna," Proc. SPIE 10189, Passive and Active Millimeter-Wave Imaging XX, 101890H (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 13, 2017; Published: 11 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2262855.
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