Antenna control

 

An apparatus, method and system for transmission are described herein. For example, apparatus can include a synthesis engine, a power supply and a multiple input single output operator. The synthesis engine is configured to generate amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information. The power supply is configured to receive the power supply control signals and to generate a power supply signal. Further, the MISO operator is configured to generate an output signal with an amplitude or a phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal.

 

 

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/487,956, filed Jun. 4, 2012, titled “Antenna Control,” now allowed, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/492,576, filed Jun. 2, 2011, titled “Transmit Antenna Multi-Element Control,” which are both incorporated herein by reference in its entireties.
The present application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/256,172, filed Oct. 24, 2005, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,184,723; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/508,989, filed Aug. 24, 2006, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,355,470; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/236,079, filed Sep. 23, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,911,272; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/590,955, filed Jul. 25, 2006, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,082,171; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/014,461, filed Jan. 15, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,554,508; and, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/442,706, filed Apr. 9, 2012, titled “Systems and Methods of RF Power Transmission, Modulation, and Amplification,” all of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.
BACKGROUND
1. Field
Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to electronically configurable and controllable antenna elements. More particularly, embodiments of the present invention relate to the control and configuration of amplitude and/or phase parameters of individual antenna elements such as, for example and without limitation, antenna elements of multi-element antenna arrays, multi-element electronically steerable antennas (MESAs), and the combination of MESAs with multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology.
2. Background
Generally, antennas can be classified into three categories: omni-directional, semi-directional, and highly-directional antennas. These three general antenna categories have different electromagnetic signal directional and gain characteristics (often referred to as “directivity”). Antenna directivity can be defined as the ratio of radiation intensity in the direction of the antenna's peak intensity or the desired direction of operation to the average radiation intensity in all other directions (e.g., total integrated power in all directions captured by the denominator of the ratio which includes the direction of interest). In addition to directivity, antennas are characterized by a radiation pattern, which can be either a two-dimensional or three-dimensional graphical plot of the antenna's signal intensity versus a reference angle.
Omni-directional antennas can have a broad radiation pattern and transmit and receive electromagnetic signals nearly uniformly in all directions. Examples of omni-directional antennas include dipoles, discones, masks, and loops. Semi-directional antennas are capable of focusing desired energy and signals in a desired direction. Examples of semi-directional antennas include patch antennas, panel antennas (both patch and panel antennas are also referred to as “planar antennas”), and Yagi antennas (e.g., a directional antenna having a horizontal conductor with several insulated dipoles parallel to and in the plane of the conductor).
Semi-directional antennas offer improved gain over omni-directional antennas in the desired direction of operation while reducing the gain of and/or potential interference from signals in other directions. As noted above, these characteristics of semi-directional antennas are referred to as directivity. Highly-directional antennas provide a smaller angle of radiation in the desired direction of operation, a more focused beam, and a narrower beam width compared to the above-described general antenna types. Examples of highly-directional antennas include parabolic dish, fixed arrays, and grid antennas (a grid antenna resembles, for example, a rectangular grill of a barbecue with edges slightly curved inward. The spacing of the wires on a grid antenna is determined by the designed operational wavelength of the antenna.).
All three of the above-described general antenna types (i.e., omni-directional, semi-directional, and highly-directional antennas) can also be classified as fixed antenna designs. A fixed antenna design is one that has a fixed gain, a fixed radiation pattern (e.g., fixed directionality), and a fixed direction of operation. An example of a fixed, highly-directional antenna is the parabolic dish antenna, which is commonly used in satellite communications. The parabolic dish antenna includes a reflector that is sized to produce the desired antenna gain and beam width for a specific radiation pattern and can be oriented in the desired direction of operation.
While particularly suitable for fixed gain, fixed location, fixed distance, and fixed direction communication systems, fixed antenna designs are not particularly suitable for applications requiring variable direction and/or variable gain. For example, the gain and radiation pattern of a parabolic dish antenna are fixed based on the size and design of the dish's reflector, and the direction of operation can only be changed by changing the dish's physical orientation. These disadvantages and limitations of static parabolic dish antennas apply to most fixed antenna designs.
An antenna design that offers advantages over the aforementioned limitations of fixed antenna designs is a multi-element electronically steerable antenna (MESA). This type of antenna can be utilized either in a fixed location or in a portable (or mobile) environment. A single MESA can be designed to produce omni-directional, semi-directional, and highly-directional antenna radiation patterns or directivity. The directivity and gain of the MESA are determined by the number of antenna array elements and the ability to determine and control the relative phase shifts and/or amplitudes between antenna array elements.
A MESA can electronically change its gain and radiation pattern (e.g., directivity), as well as its direction of operation, by varying the relative phase shift and/or amplitude of its antenna array elements. Furthermore, a MESA does not require any mechanical components, such as a motor or a servometer, to charge its direction of operation, its gain, or its radiation pattern. This allows both its size and weight to be reduced, making the MESA an ideal candidate for portable (or mobile) communication systems. Additionally, because the MESA operational parameters can be modified electronically, the direction of operation of the MESA can be changed more rapidly than a fixed antenna design, making the MESA a good antenna technology to locate, acquire, and track fast moving signals.
Conventional MESA arrays use variable phase shifters (e.g., time delay phase shifters, vector modulators, and digital phase shifters) to control directivity. The input dynamic range and resolution of such phase shifters, however, is limited, which limits the accuracy at which a determined configuration of relative phase shifts can be set. In turn, this limits the accuracy of the resulting beam steering angle of the antenna array and the suitability of the antenna array for certain applications (e.g., high mobility applications). Increasing the number of antenna elements of the array typically allows greater accuracy of beam steering angle but comes with an increased footprint and cost.
SUMMARY
Therefore, an antenna design is needed for variable directivity and variable gain, while minimizing the footprint, cost, and power consumption associated with the antenna design. Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to electronically configurable and controllable antenna elements.
An embodiment of the present invention includes an apparatus for transmitting an output signal. The apparatus can include a synthesis engine, a power supply and a multiple input single output (MISO) operator. The synthesis engine is configured to generate amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information. The power supply is configured to receive the power supply control signals and to generate a power supply signal. Further, the MISO operator is configured to generate the output signal with an amplitude or a phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal.
Another embodiment of the present invention includes a method for transmission. The method includes the following: generating amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information; receiving the power supply control signals to generate a power supply signal; and generating, with a multiple input single output (MISO) operator, an output signal with an amplitude or a phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal.
A further embodiment of the present invention includes a system for transmission. The system includes an energy converter, a local oscillator and an antenna. The energy converter can include a synthesis engine, a power supply and a multiple input single output (MISO) operator. The synthesis engine is configured to generate amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information. The power supply is configured to receive the power supply control signals and to generate a power supply signal. Further, the MISO operator is configured to generate the output signal with an amplitude or a phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal. The local oscillator is configured to provide a reference signal to the energy converter. Further, the antenna is configured to transmit the output signal.
Further embodiments, features, and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of the various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings. It is noted that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described herein. Such embodiments are presented herein for illustrative purposes only. Additional embodiments will be apparent to a person skilled the relevant art based on the teachings contained herein.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and form a part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, further serve to explain the principles of the invention and to enable a person skilled in the relevant art to make and use the invention.
FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate a two-element antenna array beam steering example.
FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a six-element antenna array beam steering example.
FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate exemplary beams of a 20-element antenna array for different main beam steering angle values.
FIG. 4 illustrates a conventional multi-element transmit antenna array.
FIG. 5 illustrates an energy converter based multi-element antenna array, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 6 illustrates an example energy converter based RP transmitter.
FIG. 7 illustrates an example multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antenna configuration.
FIG. 8 illustrates an example wireless device having an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array and an energy sampling based multi-element receive antenna array, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 9 illustrates an example implementation of a calibration feature of an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 10 is a process flowchart of a method for calibrating transmit antenna elements in a multi-element transmit antenna array, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 11A-11D illustrate example configurations of a multi-element electronically steerable antenna (MESA), according to embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 12 illustrates an example mobile device communication system in which embodiments of the present invention can be implemented.
Embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. Generally, the drawing in which an element first appears is typically indicated by the leftmost digit(s) in the corresponding reference number.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
1. Energy Converter
The term “energy converter” is used throughout the specification. In an embodiment, an energy converter is an apparatus configured to convert energy from a potential energy (e.g., AC or DC power source) to a radio frequency (RF) signal by controlling a dynamic impedance at a trans-impedance node, thus resulting in a variable dynamic loadline. Examples of energy converters are described in the U.S. patents cross-referenced above, which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties. For example, as described in at least one of the U.S. patents cross-referenced above, an energy converter based transmitter enables highly linear and efficient generation of desired waveforms over a wide range of output power. This highly linear and efficient energy converter is aided by amplitude and/or phase control mechanisms which can be applied at various stages of an energy converter based transmitter. For example, amplitude and/or phase control can be generated by digital control circuitry (in some embodiments, also referred to herein as a “Vector Synthesis Engine” (VSE)) and applied to multiple input multiple output (MISO) operator circuitry of the energy converter based transmitter. Amplitude and/or phase control signals may in turn be aided by various circuit and system characterization, circuit and/or system calibration and/or feedback (e.g., measurement and correction) mechanisms to ensure high amplitude/phase accuracy at the output of the energy converter.
In an embodiment, the MISO operator may be configured to control the impedance between a potential energy source and RF output circuitry to create a desired RF signal at a desired output power. In an embodiment, the multiple control inputs to the MISO operator may be control paths partitioned to control upper branch and lower branch circuitry. Alternatively, the multiple inputs to the MISO operator may control a single branch with multiple control paths. The control paths that serve as inputs to the MISO operator may be directly or indirectly utilized by the MISO operator to control a complex impedance of a trans-impedance node. Each baseband information input sample to the MISO operator may have a corresponding complex impedance value at the trans-impedance node, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The MISO operator and corresponding MISO circuitry may be considered as applying a mathematical “function” or “operation” such that the impedance at the transimpedance node can be varied based on the amplitude and phase control signals (e.g., inputs to the MISO operator).
In an embodiment, an energy converter can convert electrical energy of one type to electrical energy of another type. The statistics of an input potential energy to the energy converter can be different from the statistics of output energy from the energy converter, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Accordingly, multiple forms of electrical energy (e.g., AC or DC energy) can be consumed at the input of the energy converter and modulated to produce a desired modulated RF carrier at the output of the energy converter.
The above description of “energy converter” contrasts characteristics of a traditional amplifier. For example, as would be understood by a person skilled in the relevant art, a traditional amplifier is not designed to accept an input that possesses an arbitrary statistic with respect to an output of the amplifier. Rather, traditional amplifiers are typically designed to reproduce the essential statistic of the input—including voltage, current, and frequency—at its output with additional power increase due to a power supply of the amplifier that is consumed during the amplification process.
Further, for traditional amplifier designs, the input to the amplifier must possess a carrier frequency consistent with the output of the amplifier and the cross-correlation of the input and output should be as close to 1 as possible or meet minimum output waveform requirements of the amplifier. For example, a traditional amplifier requires a modulated RF carrier signal to be coupled to its input and an amplified version of the input modulated RF carrier signal at the output. This requirement is in addition to accounting for noise and non-linearities in the amplifier design.
2. Beam Steering in a Multi-Element Antenna Array
In this section, beam steering in a multi-element antenna array is described. As an example, FIGS. 1A and 1B conceptually illustrate beam steering in an example two-element antenna array 100. Antenna array 100 may be a transmit or receive antenna. As shown in FIG. 1A, antenna array 100 includes first and second variable phase shifters 102 and 104 that respectively control the phases of the first and second antenna elements (not shown in FIG. 1A) of antenna array 100.
The main beam steering angle (measured relative to a reference Y-axis) of antenna array 100 (which determines the direction of operation of the antenna) is a function of the relative phase shift (which will be denoted as “ΔΦ” herein) between the first and second antenna elements. In FIG. 1A, the main beam steering angle is denoted by the symbol “ΦS.”
It can be shown that the main beam steering angle of antenna array 100 and the relative phase shift between the first and second antenna elements of antenna array 100 are related by the following equation:
360ΔΦ=λx(1)
where x is the distance labeled “x” in FIG. 1A, and λ is the wavelength of the transmitted/received beam.
From FIG. 1A, the distance between the first and second antenna elements of antenna array 100 (denoted as “d” in FIG. 1A) is related to “x” according to:
x=d*sin(ΦS).  (2)
Thus, by substitution, the relative phase shift between the first and second antenna elements of antenna array 100 can be written as a function of the main beam steering angle of the array as:
ΔΦ = 360 * d * sin ( Φ s ) λ . ( 3 )
As a numerical example, assume that the RF output frequency of antenna array 100 is 3 GHz (which corresponds to a wavelength (λ)=9.993 cm), that the distance between the first and second antenna elements (d) is 2.5 cm, and that the desired beam steering angle (ΦS) is 45 degrees. Substituting these numerical values into equation (3) above results in a relative phase shift between the first and second antenna elements (ΔΦ) of approximately 63.684 degrees. An antenna array beam 106 that results from this example is illustrated in FIG. 1B.
FIG. 2A conceptually illustrates beam steering in an example six-element antenna array 200. FIG. 2B illustrates an example beam 210 produced by antenna array 200 for a beam steering angle (ΦS) of 45 degrees. Like example two-element antenna array 100, the beam steering angle (ΦS) of antenna array 200 is a function of the relative phase shifts between successive antenna elements of the array.
FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate example beam patterns of a 20-element antenna array for different main beam steering angle values. Specifically, FIGS. 3A, 3B, and 3C respectively show example antenna array beam patterns 300A, 300B, and 300C produced using the 20-element antenna array for beam steering angles (ΦS) of 45 degrees, 60 degrees, and 90 degrees, respectively. As shown in FIGS. 3A-3C, the directivity of the 20-element antenna array (e.g., gain in the desired direction and/or attenuation of potential interference from signals in other directions) is at a maximum at the selected beam steering angle (ΦS).
3. Conventional Multi-Element Antenna Array
FIG. 4 illustrates a conventional multi-element transmit antenna array 400. As shown in FIG. 4, conventional multi-element array 400 includes a plurality (N) of signal paths, each including a transmitter 4021-402N, a power amplifier (PA) 4041-404N, a variable phase shifter 4061-406N, and an antenna element 4081-408N. Transmit (TX) information 410 is input simultaneously into each of the plurality of signal paths via its respective transmitter 4021-402N. Transmitter 402 may be any known conventional transmitter. Transmitters 4021-402N modulate and/or frequency up-convert, for example, input TX information 410 using a reference signal 416 from a local oscillator (LO) 414. The outputs of transmitters 4021-402N are power amplified by PA 4041-404N, respectively, and then respectively acted upon by variable phase shifters 4061-406N. In particular, each variable phase shifter 4061-406N applies a respective phase shift to a respective PA output based on a respective phase shift control signal 4121-412N.
To achieve a desired beam steering angle via multi-element antenna array 400, the relative phase shifts between successive antenna elements 4081-408N must be set appropriately. This includes determining a configuration of relative phase shifts between successive antenna elements 4081-408N, which results in the desired beam steering angle and controlling variable phase shifters 4061-406N for each signal path, as necessary, to achieve the determined configuration.
Conventional multi-element antenna arrays, including conventional MESA arrays, implement variable phase shifters 4061-406N using time delay phase shifters, vector modulators, and digital phase shifters, for example. The dynamic range and resolution of such phase shifters, however, is limited, which limits the accuracy at which a determined configuration of relative phase shifts can be set. In turn, this limits the accuracy of the resulting beam steering angle of the antenna array and the suitability of the antenna array for certain applications (e.g., high mobility applications). Increasing the number of antenna elements of the array typically allows greater accuracy of beam steering angle but comes with an increased footprint, cost, and power consumption.
4. Energy Converter Based Multi-Element Antenna Array
Embodiments of the present invention provide an energy converter based multi-element antenna array, which will be described below. In an embodiment, the multi-element antenna array is electronically steerable.
FIG. 5 illustrates an energy converter based multi-element antenna array 500, according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 5, energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array 500 includes a plurality (N) of signal paths, each including an energy converter based transmitter 5021-502N and an antenna element 5041-504N. Energy converter based transmitter 5021-502N in each path is provided a reference signal 416 from LO 414 as well as transmit (TX) information, antenna element phase control information, and output power control information, according to an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment, the TX information, antenna element phase control information, and the output power control information are provided to each energy converter based transmitter 5021-502N from digital circuitry and/or mixed-signal circuitry that may include, for example, a microprocessor, FPGA, digital signal processor, state machine, or a combination thereof (not shown in FIG. 5).
Accordingly, energy converter based multi-element antenna array embodiments replace, in each signal path, the conventional transmitter, power amplifier, and variable phase shifter (e.g., as used in conventional multi-element transmit antenna array 400 of FIG. 4) with a single energy converter based transmitter. Advantages of an energy converter based multi-element antenna include, among others, significant savings in terms of size, reduction in power consumption, the ability to transmit multiple RF signals, waveforms, and wireless standards with the same energy converter based transmitter circuitry, and enhanced phase and amplitude accuracy for each antenna element.
In addition, embodiments of the present invention leverage various levels of amplitude and/or phase control mechanisms of the energy converter based transmitter to enable both highly-controllable and highly-accurate beam steering in the multi-element antenna array. Indeed, as described above, amplitude and/or phase in an energy converter based transmitter can be controlled at any given time using one or more of multiple stages of the energy converter based transmitter, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 6 illustrates an example energy converter based transmitter implementation 600, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Embodiments based on example implementation 600 can be used in an energy converter based multi-element antenna array, such as multi-element antenna array 500 of FIG. 5. As shown in FIG. 6, energy converter based transmitter implementation 600 includes a Vector Synthesis Engine (VSE) circuitry 602, a Interpolation/Anti-Alias Filter circuitry 608, a multiple input single output (MISO) operator 620, and a Digitally Controlled Power Supply (DCPS) circuitry 616.
VSE circuitry 602 receives command and control information via a command and control interface 506. In an embodiment, the command and control information is provided by digital and/or mixed-signal circuitry that may include, for example, a microprocessor, FPGA, state machine, or a combination thereof (not shown in FIG. 6) and includes transmit (TX) information, antenna element phase control information, and output power control information. In addition, VSE circuitry 602 receives I and Q information over a data interface, from a baseband processor, for example.
VSE circuitry 602 uses the received I and Q information, element phase, and element power control information to generate amplitude control signals 610, phase control signals 612 (which are filtered by Interpolation/Anti-Alias Filter circuitry 608) and DCPS control signals 606. VSE circuitry 602 and Interpolation/Anti-Alias Filter circuitry 608 provide amplitude control signals 610 and phase control signals 612 to MISO operator 620, and VSE circuitry provides DCPS control signals 606 to DCPS circuitry 616 to generate the desired RF output waveform at the desired amplitude and phase.
Each of amplitude control signals 610, phase control signals 612, filter signal and control interface signals 604, and DCPS control signals 606 can be used, alone or in various combinations, to control the amplitude and/or phase of the output signal of MISO operator 620. In particular, amplitude control signals 610 and phase control signals 612 control the output of MISO operator 620 by controlling various stages of MISO operator 620. Similarly, filter signal and control interface 604 and DCPS control signals 606 control the amplitude and/or phase of the output signal of MISO operator 620 by, respectively, altering the response of Interpolation/Anti-Alias Filter circuitry 608 and controlling the amount of power provided to MISO operator and output storage networks 620.
Further detailed implementations of the energy converter based transmitter are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/256,172, filed Oct. 24, 2005, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,184,723 , U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/508,989, filed Aug. 24, 2006, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,355,470, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/236,079, filed Sep. 23, 2008, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,911,272, all of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties. As detailed in these U.S. patents, amplitude and/or phase control in the energy converter based transmitter can be applied at any given time using at least one of VSE circuitry 602 (also known as the digital control or transfer function module), Interpolation/Anti-Alias Filter circuitry 608, MISO operator 620 (including the vector modulation and output stage), and DCPS circuitry 616 of the energy converter based transmitter. The accuracy of amplitude and/or phase control may further be aided by various circuit and system characterization, circuit and/or system calibration, and/or feed-forward (e.g., pre-compensation) and/or feedback (e.g., measurement and correction) mechanisms, as described in the above-mentioned U.S. patents.
Together, the various levels of amplitude and/or phase control mechanisms of an energy converter based transmitter can be used, according to embodiments of the present invention, to enable various resolution levels (e.g., accuracy levels) to set the amplitude and/or phase of the energy converter based transmitter. In tarn, when the energy converter based transmitter is used in an energy converter based multi-element antenna array, various beam steering (e.g., directivity) accuracy levels can be enabled. For example, depending on the desired beam steering accuracy, one or more of the amplitude/phase control mechanisms in one or more (or in each) energy converter based transmitter of the multi-element antenna array can be used. In addition, by combining multiple control mechanisms, each with a respective control dynamic range, the resulting beam steering accuracy levels include higher accuracy with greater repeatability levels than allowed by using conventional variable phase shifters.
5. MESA-Based Multiple-Input Multiple Output (MIMO) Antenna
Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna operation is often referred to as “spatial multiplexing.” Spatial multiplexing refers to a technique that separates one or more high data rate signals into multiple (and sometimes lower) data rate signals, which are then transmitted over different transmit antennas on the same frequency or channel. If the transmit antennas have reasonably different spatial signatures (e.g., the antennas have different polarizations or exist in different planes), a receiver with the same number of receive antennas can process the multiple data rate signals as parallel channels. As such, spatial multiplexing can greatly increase channel capacity. MIMO operation requires at least two antennas but can employ as many antennas as practice allows can be spatially separated.
FIG. 7 illustrates an example MIMO communication system 700. As shown in FIG. 7, example MIMO communication system 700 includes a MIMO transmit antenna 702 having three transmit (TX) antennas A, B, and C, and a MIMO receive antenna 704 having three receive (RX) antennas A, B, and C. TX antennas A, B, and C have orthogonal polarizations relative to one another (e.g., X-Polarization, Y-Polarization, and Z-Polarization). RX antennas A, B, and C also have orthogonal polarizations relative to one another (e.g., X-Polarization, Y-Polarization, and Z-polarization). In addition, TX antennas A, B, and C and RX antennas A, B, and C are configured so as to have matching polarizations (e.g., TX antenna A and RX antenna A both have X-polarization).
As a result of the above described MIMO antenna configuration, desired spatial signal paths can be created between MIMO transmit antenna 702 and MIMO receive antenna 704. For example, three spatially independent signal paths 706A, 706B, and 706C can be created as shown in FIG. 7. The spatially independent signal paths 706A, 706B, and 706C allow for multiple simultaneous transmissions to occur between MIMO transmit antenna 702 and MIMO receive antenna 704.
As described above, embodiments of the present invention enable a multi-element electronically steerable antenna (MESA) array. The MESA array can be controlled electronically to change its gain, radiation pattern, and/or direction of operation by varying the relative phase shifts and/or amplitudes of the antenna elements of the array. In an embodiment, the MESA array includes at least two antenna elements.
According to an embodiment of the present invention, the MESA array can further be used in a MIMO communication system. As such, in an embodiment, each TX antenna of a MIMO transmit antenna is implemented as one or more MESAs. As a result, each TX antenna can be electronically configured or re-configured for increased and/or optimum performance, according to (or changes in) the environment. For example, the beam width and/or direction of each TX antenna can be electronically changed based on feedback from the MIMO receiver. This can be done, for example, in order to achieve a desired spatial multiplexing, increase the number of MIMO spatial paths, improve the signal to noise ratio of MIMO signals at the receiver, and/or increase spatial isolation between the MIMO spatial paths (e.g., to increase the information data rate or compensate for channel interference).
Thus, embodiments of the present invention enable a MESA-based MIMO transmit antenna configurable to optimize spatial multiplexing system parameters, as desired. Further, according to embodiments of the present invention, a single MESA array can be configured to operate as a MIMO transmit/receive antenna. For example, in an embodiment, the individual elements of a MESA array can be individually configured so as to create therefrom multiple antennas, in which the multiple antennas are configured to form a MINIO antenna.
6. Example Implementations
Example implementations according to embodiments of the present invention will now be provided. These example implementations are provided for the purpose of illustration only, and thus are not limiting. As further described, these example implementations use an energy converter based transmitter and/or an energy sampling based receiver in their designs to enable a RF power transceiver engine for highly accurate, highly efficient multimode wireless applications. Examples of energy converter based transmitters and energy sampling receivers are described the U.S. patents cross-references above, which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties. For example, as described in at least one of the U.S. patents cross-referenced above, the energy sampling receiver provides an efficient and highly linear solution for demodulating RF waveforms. An energy sampling based receiver provides high sensitivity, high dynamic range, wide instantaneous bandwidth, and a broad tuning range in a compact implementation.
FIG. 8 illustrates an example wireless device 800 having an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array and an energy sampling based multi-element receive antenna array. Wireless device 800 can support communication in the IEEE L-band (1 to 2 GHz), for example. As shown in FIG. 8, wireless device 800 includes a baseband processor 802, a multi-path transmit section 804, a multi-path receive section 806, a microprocessor or FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) processor 808, transmit and receive local oscillators (LOs) 810 and 812, respectively, and a phase and amplitude alignment/calibration receiver path 814.
Baseband processor 802 provides transmit (TX) information to transmit section 804, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The TX information may be in the form of real time in-phase (I) and quadrature (Q) TX waveform data. Additionally, in an embodiment, baseband processor 802 receives receive (RX) information from receive section 806. The RX information may be in the form of real time I and Q waveform data. Additionally, baseband processor 802 may embody the control circuitry, software and/or firmware, and interface(s) found in microprocessor of FPGA processor 808.
Transmit section 804 includes one or more TX signal paths (four in the example of FIG. 8), each including an energy converter based transmitter and an optional TX antenna element. Transmit section 804 receives TX waveform data from baseband processor 802. In an embodiment, transmit section 804 includes a TX waveform memory, which is used for testing purposes. The TX waveform memory can be used to load a desired test waveform and to test the performance of wireless device 800 for the desired test waveform. In an embodiment, the TX waveform memory can be used to test waveforms that are not supported by baseband processor 802. The TX waveform data is provided to the VSE module of each TX signal path, according to an embodiment of the present invention. At the same time, transmit section 804 receives command and control information via a TX SPI (System Packet Interface) bus from microprocessor/FPGA processor 808. TX local oscillator (LO) 810 provides a transmit LO signal to the MISO operator of each TX signal path.
Receive section 806 includes one or more RX signal paths (four in the example of FIG. 8), each including a RX antenna element, a RX front end module, an Interpolation/Anti-Alias Filter stage, and a RX controller. The RX front end module includes an energy sampling based receiver. Receive section 806 provides RX waveform data to baseband processor 802. Like transmit section 804, receive section 806 receives command and control information via a RX SPI bus from microprocessor/FPGA processor 808. RX local oscillator (LO) 812 provides a receive LO to the RX front end module of each RX signal path.
Microprocessor/FPGA processor 808 is programmable via a user computer interface 816, for example, in order to control TX and/or RX sections 804 and 806, respectively, of wireless device 800. According to embodiments of the present invention, microprocessor/FPGA processor 808 can be used to setup, control, calibrate, and test the antenna elements. Microprocessor/FPGA processor 808 may support a graphical user interface, which can be used to download and upload test waveforms and to control individual antenna elements.
Furthermore, microprocessor/FPGA processor 808 receives feedback information from phase and amplitude alignment/calibration receive path 814. In an embodiment, the received feedback information includes information regarding phase alignment and the amplitude or power output of the TX antenna elements.
Phase and amplitude alignment/calibration receive path 814 is used to calibrate the TX antenna elements (e.g., to ensure that the TX antenna elements are operating at a desired phase and power output). In an embodiment, phase and amplitude alignment/calibration receive path 814 includes an antenna (or antenna coupler) 818 and calibration receiver circuitry. The calibration receiver circuitry includes an RF amplifier 820, a frequency down-converter 822, a baseband amplifier 824, interpolation/anti-alias filters 826, and an analog-to-digital (ADC) converter 828. In an embodiment, gain control signal provided by microprocessor/FPGA processor 808 controls the gain of RF amplifier 820.
According to embodiments of the present invention, phase and amplitude alignment/calibration receiver path 814 may include more or less components than shown in FIG. 8. For example, as would be understood by a person of skilled in the relevant art based on the teachings herein, the calibration receiver circuitry may be implemented in different ways than shown in FIG. 8. These different implementations of the calibration receiver circuitry are within the spirit and scope of the embodiments disclosed herein.
FIG. 9 illustrates an example implementation 900 of a phase calibration receive path according to an embodiment of the present invention.
As shown in FIG. 9, the phase and amplitude calibration receive path includes a calibration receiver antenna (or antenna coupler) 908, calibration receiver circuitry 910, and a calibration controller 912. In an embodiment, the calibration receive path serves to calibrate an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array. The multi-element transmit antenna array includes a plurality of signal paths, each including a VSE 9021-9024, a MISO operator 9041-9044, and a TX antenna element 9061-9064.
A TX LO 914 provides a local oscillator (LO) signal to each MISO operator 9041-9044 as well as to calibration receiver circuitry 910. As a result, a DC signal is generated when a signal transmitted by TX antenna element 9061-9064 is received and down-converted by calibration receiver circuitry 910 using the provided LO signal. When TX antennas 9061-9064 are substantially equidistant to calibration receiver antenna 908, a substantially equal DC signal value is generated for all TX antennas 9061-9064 when TX antennas 9061-9064 are phase calibrated. In other words, TX antennas 9061-9064 can be phase calibrated by ensuring that the substantially same DC signal value (e.g., a pre-determined value) is generated for all TX antennas (in the case that TX antennas 9061-9064 are substantially equidistant to calibration receiver antenna 908 and the same signal is transmitted by TX antennas 9061-9064). In addition to phase calibration, calibration controller 912 and calibration receiver circuitry 910 can be used to calibrate the amplitude or power output of each antenna element.
As would be understood by a person skilled in the relevant art, when TX antennas 9061-9064 are not substantially equidistant to calibration receiver antenna 908, different DC signal values may result for TX antennas 9061-9064. In an embodiment, the generated DC signal value for each TX antenna 9061-9064 is normalized using a respective normalization factor (e.g., determined for each TX antenna 9061-9064 based on its relative location to calibration receiver antenna 908), and the normalized DC signal values are then used to calibrate TX antennas 9061-9064 (e.g., the normalized DC signal values are fixed to the same pre-determined value). Alternatively, in an embodiment, the generated DC signal values are compared against different respective pre-determined DC signal values, where each pre-determined DC signal value is computed a priori for a respective TX antenna 9061-9604 using testing and experimentation. This technique can be used to calibrate both amplitude or power output and phase of each antenna element.
An example of the operation of the phase and amplitude calibration receive path of FIG. 9 is described with reference to FIG. 10, which illustrates a process flowchart 1000 of a method for calibrating transmit antenna elements in a multi-element transmit antenna array, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Process 1000 is performed with respect to one antenna element at a time—i.e., the antenna element being calibrated.
Process 1000 begins in step 1002, which includes setting the phase of an antenna element being calibrated to a selected value. In an embodiment, step 1002 is performed using one or more of calibration controller 912, VSE 902, and MISO operator 904 of FIG. 9. For example, the phase of the antenna element may be set to a value corresponding to 0 degrees relative to a reference.
Step 1004 includes setting the power output of the antenna element being calibrated to a selected value. In an embodiment, step 1004 is performed using one or more of calibration controller 912, VSE 902, and MISO operator 904 of FIG. 9. The selected power output value is selected, in an embodiment, based on the distance of the antenna element being calibrated to the calibration receiver antenna.
Step 1006 includes transmitting an RF carrier signal from the antenna element. The RF carrier signal is transmitted at the selected phase value and the selected power output value. The RF carrier signal can be any RF signal. In an embodiment, step 1006 is performed using one or more of VSE 902, MISO operator 904, and TX antenna element 906 of FIG. 9.
Step 1008 includes receiving the transmitted RF carrier signal using the calibration receiver circuitry. Step 1008 is performed by calibration receiver circuitry 910 of FIG. 9, according to an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment, step 1008 includes down-converting the transmitted RF carrier signal using the same LO signal used to generate the transmitted RF carrier signal. As a result, as described above, a DC signal is generated in step 1008.
Step 1010 includes comparing an output of the calibration receiver circuitry to a desired value or range of values. In an embodiment, step 1010 is performed by calibration controller 912 of FIG. 9. n an embodiment, step 1010 includes comparing the DC signal generated in step 1008 with a desired pre-determined DC signal value. As described above, the desired DC signal value may be the same value for all antennas, or can be computed for each antenna a priori using testing and experimentation. In an embodiment, the output of the calibration receiver circuitry may be an analog or a digital signal.
Step 1012 includes determining whether or not the output of the calibration receiver circuitry is equal to the desired value or within a defined tolerance error from the desired value. If the result of step 1012 is “Yes,” then calibration process 1000 proceeds to step 1014, which ends the calibration process for the antenna element being calibrated. Process 1000 can be repeated for another antenna element, if any. Otherwise, process 1000 proceeds to step 1016, which includes adjusting the phase and/or amplitude of the antenna element. In an embodiment, step 1016 includes adjusting the phase and/or amplitude of the antenna element based on a comparison of the output of the calibration receiver circuitry and the desired value or range of values. The phase and/or amplitude of the antenna element is adjusted so as to bring the output of the calibration receiver circuitry closer to the desired value and within the defined tolerance error from the desired value.
As described above, when all TX antenna elements are substantially equidistant to the calibration receiver antenna or antenna coupling circuitry, the TX antenna elements are all calibrated to a substantially similar desired value. However, in the case that the TX antennas are placed in a non-symmetrical layout relative to the calibration receiver antenna, then the TX antenna elements may have to be calibrated to different desired values.
The phase and amplitude calibration techniques described herein can be performed prior to the example implementation operation and/or during the example implementation operation. In an embodiment, the phase and amplitude calibration can occur during a set-up process or procedure, at regular time intervals, or in the event of a measured or observed error (e.g., at a time which does not interfere with normal operation of the transceiver).
FIGS. 11A-11D illustrate example configurations of a multi-element electronically steerable antenna (MESA) according to embodiments of the present invention. In particular, FIGS. 11A and B illustrate example layouts of TX antenna elements relative to the calibration receiver antenna or antenna coupler in MESA embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 11A illustrates an example four-element MESA configuration 1100A, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Example configuration 1100A has a symmetrical layout, in which TX antenna elements 9061, 9062, 9063, and 9064 are placed symmetrically relative to calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908. Thus, TX antenna elements 9061-9064 are pairwise equidistant to calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908, and can be calibrated to the same desired value.
FIG. 11B illustrates another example four-element MESA configuration 1100B, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Example configuration 1100B has a layout whereby the calibration receiver antenna or antenna coupler 908 is not substantially equidistant relative to each antenna element. In particular, TX antenna elements 9061-9064 are not pairwise equidistant to calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908. Instead, TX antenna elements 9061 and 9064 are equidistant to calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908 (but not equidistant with TX antenna elements 9062 and 9063). Similarly, TX antenna elements 9062 and 9063 are equidistant to calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908 (but not equidistant with TX antenna elements 9061 and 9064). As such, TX antenna elements 9061 and 9064 can be calibrated to a first desired value, and TX antenna elements 9062 and 9063 can be calibrated to a second desired value or, alternatively, all antenna elements can be calibrated to different, predetermined values.
FIG. 11C illustrates another example MESA configuration 1100C, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Example configuration 1100C may include any number of TX antenna elements 906, placed around calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908. Accordingly, depending on its location and distance from calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908, a TX antenna element 906 may be equidistant and/or symmetric to one or more other TX antenna elements of the configuration.
FIG. 11D illustrates another example MESA configuration 1100D according to an embodiment of the present invention. Example configuration 1100D may include any number of TX antenna elements 906, placed around or near one or more calibration receiver antenna/couplers 908. In an embodiment, calibration of MESA configuration 1100D is performed by dividing the set of antenna elements 906 into sub-sets, calibrating the antennas in each sub-set using the additional calibration receiver antenna/couplers 908 co-located near the sub-set, and then calibrating the sub-sets relative to each other using calibration receiver and calibration control circuitry configured to accept one or more calibration receiver antenna/coupler inputs.
In an embodiment, calibrating the sub-sets relative to each other can be done by selecting a single representative TX antenna element from each sub-set, calibrating the selected TX antenna elements using calibration receiver antenna/coupler 908, and then applying the calibration result of each representative TX antenna element to all other antenna elements of its respective sub-set. In an embodiment, this calibration technique may require predictably-characterized offset parameters.
Based on the description herein, a person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that similar phase and amplitude calibration techniques (as described above) can be used to calibrate one or more elements in a receive signal path.
7. Example Systems
Embodiments of the present invention, as described above, are suitable for use in various communication applications including, but not limited to, military communication applications, wireless local area networks (WLAN) applications, cellular phone applications (e.g., in base stations, handsets, etc.), picocell applications, femtocell applications, and automobile applications. In particular, MESA based MIMO antenna embodiments are suitable for use in a Long Term Evolution (LTE) based communication system (which is part of the 4G Enhanced Packet System (EPS) standard), and can be used to optimize the system's data throughput, user capacity, and performance (e.g., signal to noise ratios) in any static or dynamic environment.
FIG. 12 illustrates an example mobile device communication system 1200 in which embodiments of the present invention can be implemented. System 1200 can be, for example, a cellular phone system (e.g., 3G, 4G, or any other type of wireless communication system) and satellite phone system. Cellular phones 1204, 1208, 1212, and 1216 each include a transceiver 1206, 1210, 1214, and 1218, respectively. Transceivers 1206, 1210, 1214, and 1218 enable their respective cellular phones to communicate via a wireless communication medium (e.g., 3G, 4G, or any other type of wireless communication system) with base stations 1220 and 1224. Base stations 1220 and 1224 are in communication with one another via a telephone network 1222 and include transceivers 1221 and 1225, respectively. According to an embodiment of the present invention, transceivers 1206, 1210, 1214, 1218, 1221, and 1225 are implemented using one or more energy converter based transmitters (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 6), one or more MIMO antennas (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 7), one or more transceivers with an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array and an energy sampling based multi-element receive antenna array (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 8), or a combination thereof.
Based on the description herein, a person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other types of base stations can include the transceivers discussed above. The other types of base stations include, but are not limited to, macro base stations (operating in networks that are relatively large), micro base stations (operating in networks that are relatively small), satellite base stations (operating with satellites), cellular base stations (operating in a cellular telephone networks), and data communication base stations (operating as gateways to computer networks).
FIG. 12 also illustrates a satellite telephone 1290 that communicates via satellites, such as satellite 1226. Satellite telephone 1290 includes a transceiver 1292, which can be implemented using one or more energy converter based transmitters (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 6), one or more MIMO antennas (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 7), one or more transceivers with an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array and an energy sampling based multi-element receive antenna array (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 8), or a combination thereof.
FIG. 12 also illustrates a cordless phone 1290 having a handset 1293 and a base station 1296. Handset 1293 and base station 1296 include transceivers 1294 and 1298, respectively, for communicating with each other preferably over a wireless link. Transceivers 1294 and 1298 are preferably implemented using one or more energy converter based transmitters (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 6), one or more MIMO antennas (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 7), one or more transceivers with an energy converter based multi-element transmit antenna array and an energy sampling based multi-element receive antenna array (e.g., as described above with respect to FIG. 8), or a combination thereof.
Advantages of implementing embodiments of the present invention into, for example, the above-noted systems include but are not limited to signal range and quality improvement, increased communication bandwidth, increased capacity, rapid antenna directionality without the use of mechanical movement, and reduction in power consumption. Additional advantages include smaller form factors, enhanced reliability, enhanced repeatability, electronically-controlled antenna gain, beam width, beam shape, beam steering, electronic calibration, and electronic signal acquisition and tracking.
8. Conclusion
It is to be appreciated that the Detailed Description section, and not the Summary and Abstract sections, is intended to be used to interpret the claims. The Summary and Abstract sections may set forth one or more but not all exemplary embodiments of the present invention as contemplated by the inventors, and thus, are not intended to limit the present invention and the appended claims in any way.
Embodiments of the present invention have been described above with the aid of functional building blocks illustrating the implementation of specified functions and relationships thereof. The boundaries of these functional building blocks have been arbitrarily defined herein for the convenience of the description. Alternate boundaries can be defined so long as the specified functions and relationships thereof are appropriately performed.
The foregoing description of the specific embodiments will so fully reveal the general nature of the invention such that others can, by applying knowledge within the skill of the relevant art, readily modify and/or adapt for various applications such specific embodiments, without undue experimentation, without departing from the general concept of the present invention. Therefore, such adaptations and modifications are intended to be within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments, based on the teaching and guidance presented herein. It is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation, such that the terminology or phraseology of the present specification is to be interpreted by the skilled artisan in light of the teachings and guidance.
The breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.


1. An apparatus comprising:
a synthesis engine configured to generate amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information;
a power supply configured to receive the power supply control signals and to generate a power supply signal;
a multiple input single output (MISO) operator configured to generate an output signal with an amplitude or a phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal; and
an interpolation/anti-alias filter configured to filter the amplitude control signals and the phase control signals prior to reception by the MISO operator.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the synthesis engine is configured to generate at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply control signals based on at least one of in-phase (I) and quadrature-phase information, element phase and element power control information.
3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the command and control information comprises at least one of transmit information, antenna element phase control information and output power control information.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the power supply comprises a digitally-controlled power supply.
5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the power supply is configured to control the amplitude or the phase of the output signal by controlling an amount of power provided to the MISO operator.
6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the amplitude and the phase of the output signal is based on the power supply signal.
7. A method comprising:
generating amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information;
receiving the power supply control signals to generate a power supply signal;
generating, with a multiple input single output (MISO) operator, an output signal with an amplitude or a phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal; and
filtering the amplitude control signals and the phase control signals prior to reception by the MISO operator.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein the generating the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply control signals comprises generating at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply control signals based on at least one of in-phase (I) and quadrature-phase information, element phase and element power control information.
9. The method of claim 7, wherein the receiving comprises controlling the amplitude or the phase of the output signal by controlling an amount of power provided to the MISO operator.
10. The method of claim 7, wherein the generating the output signal comprises generating the amplitude and the phase of the output signal based on the power supply signal.
11. A system comprising:
an energy converter comprising:
a synthesis engine configured to generate amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information;
a power supply configured to receive the power supply control signals and to generate a power supply signal; and
a multiple input single output (MISO) operator configured to generate an ouput signal with an amplitude or phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal;
a local oscillator configured to provide a reference signal to the energy converter;
interpolation/anti-alias filter configured to filter the amplitude control signals and the phase control signals prior to the reception by the MISO operator; and
an antenna configured to transmit the output signal.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein the synthesis engine is configured to generate at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply control signals based on at least one of in-phase (I) and quadrature-phase information, element phase and element power control information.
13. The system of claim 11, wherein the command and control information comprises at least one of transmit information, antenna element phase control information and output power control information.
14. The system of claim 11, wherein the power supply is comprises a digitally-controlled power supply.
15. The system of claim 11, wherein the power supply is configured to control the amplitude or the phase of the output signal by controlling an amount of power provided to the MISO operator.
16. The system of claim 11, wherein the amplitude and the phase of the output signal is based on the power supply signal.
17. system comprising:
an energy converter comprising:
a synthesis engine configured to generate amplitude control signals, phase control signals and power supply control signals based on command and control information;
a power supply configured to receive the power supply control signals and to generate a power supply signal; and
a multiple input single output (MISO) operator configured to generate an ouput signal with an amplitude or phase controlled by at least one of the amplitude control signals, the phase control signals and the power supply signal;
a local oscillator configured to provide a reference signal to the energy converter wherein the local oscillator configured to provide the reference signal to the MISO operator; and
an antenna configured to transmit the output signal.

 

 

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