A physical optics approach has been found to be very fruitful in designing antennas that make use of the diffraction phenomenon. Flexibility in forming a desired wavefront is achieved by creating a complex diffraction grating, also known as holographic beam forming. Based on this notion, a new type of electronically controlled beam former has been demonstrated. The device operation is based on a real-time reconfigurable hologram formed by electron-hole plasma injected into a planar semiconductor waveguide. The device operates at millimeter-wave frequencies and is capable of forming a wavefront with an arbitrary profile. Digital control is achieved through the use of a millimeter wave/microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) design that holds the promise of unparalleled cost effectiveness. Potential applications include smart antennas, imaging radar, and communications.
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