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Radio Frequency

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Radio frequency (RF) refers to the field of study that examines electromagnetic waves with frequencies between 3kHz (λ=100km) and 300GHz (λ=1mm), encompassing both microwaves and millimeter waves. Investigations at RF begins with solving Maxwell's equations and finding their solutions for appropriate boundary conditions. At RF frequencies, the phase variation of the signal is significant enough to break down the lumped element approximations of low-frequency circuit models and distributed models employed in transmission-line theory are more appropriate. However, a full field theory approach provides a complete 3D formulation of the electromagnetic fields. As a result, numerical methods that provide rigorous field theory solutions to Maxwell's equations for arbitrary 3D geometries (i.e., Finite Difference Time Domain with CAD modeling) are crucial in the design of RF systems.


The study of RF spans a broad range of applications from telecommunications, radar and defense, and imaging. The essential components in RF systems is the transmission line (TL) and waveguide which guide RF energy, the printed circuit board (PCB) which processes and distributes the RF signal, and the antenna which converts the RF electrical signals into radio waves. Lumerical's FDTD is a 3D Maxwell solver, capable of analyzing the interaction of RF waves with complicated structures employing wavelength and subwavelength scale features. Lumerical's MODE is a comprehensive waveguide design environment for the analysis and optimization of waveguide and transmission lines. FDTD and MODE can be used across a wide array of RF research areas, please select from one of the following topics to learn more:


Transmission Lines and Waveguides

Transmission lines and waveguides are structures designed to carry (guide) electromagnetic waves between two points in space. A transmission-line is a two- or more- conductor structure that can support a fundamental TEM or quasi-TEM mode. Although the term waveguide can refer to a broad class of electromagnetic guiding structures including transmission lines, at RF frequencies a waveguide most commonly refers to a single conductor structure such as a hollow metal pipe. Transmission lines and waveguides are used for connecting RF networks such as to antennas, and in generating, distributing, and processing RF signals. The analysis of transmission lines and waveguides begins by finding the eigenmodes and their cutoff frequencies, dispersion, loss, and mode profiles.



Printed Circuit Boards

Printed circuit boards are electronic circuits consisting of thin strips of a conducting material that has been etched from a metallic layer attached to a substrate onto which integrated circuits and other components are mounted. Metallic lines and pads allows signals and power to be routed between physical devices. PCB analysis consists on finding the network parameters of the system, which are often characterized by the scattering, ABCD, or impedance parameters. 



Antennas are a means for radiating and receiving radio waves and can be constructed using dielectric and/or conductive materials. An antenna's input impedance, directional dependence of its radiation (determined from its radiation pattern and directivity), and radiation efficiency are important characteristics in its design.


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