Array-Beamspace Mapping for Planar Two-Dimensional Beam-Forming

As sixth-generation (6G) communication systems manifest at carrier frequencies well into the millimeter-wave (mmW) spectrum, the ability of conventional digital beamforming techniques to handle the beam-bandwidth product is increasingly stressed. Microwave photonic beamforming has been presented as a solution to this problem by up-converting a sampled RF field distribution to an optical carrier for analog beam-space processing, but to date has relied upon fiber arrays with the same dimensionality as the RF array, i.e., a two-dimensional RF array requires a two-dimensional fiber array and a three-dimensional optical processor to perform the Fourier transform required for two-dimensional beamforming. To address this problem, we present an approach to photonic mmW beamforming wherein two-dimensional phase information is preserved through a one-dimensional Fourier transform leveraging grating lobes in the array response. This approach carries several benefits, primarily as an enabler for leveraging photonic integrated circuits for RF-photonic beamforming, carrying with it a footprint reduction of more than ten thousand times. Furthermore, beamforming efficiency is increased for sources near the limits of the RF field-of-view; improvements to throughput power in such cases are as much as double. Theory, simulations, and experimental results in the form of images and videos are presented to validate the approach for a nineteen-element hexagonally-distributed phased array.
This article was originally published in IEEE Access. The version of record is available at:
arrays, beamspace, Fourier transform, beamforming, mapping, RF photonics, AB mapping
W. L. Beardell, J. Murakowski, G. J. Schneider and D. W. Prather, "Array-Beamspace Mapping for Planar Two-Dimensional Beam-Forming," in IEEE Access, vol. 11, pp. 77716-77728, 2023, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2023.3297974.