Antennas form the basis of all connected devices and wireless systems. Smartphones, computers, electronic implants, industrial machinery, vehicles, trains, aircraft, spacecraft – almost any modern equipment includes antennas for communication protocols including wifi, Bluetooth and 5G. Coming trends, such as 6G and satellite internet megaconstellations, will require new antenna designs and installations.
Antennas have many applications outside communication as well. Radar systems use antennas to transmit and receive radio waves, and many other sensors use antennas to gather data about the environment. Many medical devices use antennas for communication (eg. wearable monitors), imaging (eg. microwave imaging), treatment (eg. RF hyperthermia) and charging (eg. implants). Wireless energy transfer and energy harvesting use antennas as part of the rectenna system that converts radio frequency into electric current – these form the basis of RFID and NFC.
The design of an antenna is crucial to ensure that it meets specifications such as center frequency, bandwidth, efficiency and directivity/gain. Equally important however is its placement – the platform it is placed on can significantly impact its installed performance. Propagation in complex real world environments can give rise to coverage issues or to co-site interference between radio systems.
Simulation can be used at all stages of antenna development and integration to produce viable antenna designs, optimize them to meet specifications, and analyze their installed performance and RF exposure. SIMULIA antenna synthesis and electromagnetic simulation tools give antenna engineers the tools they need for any application.
Alongside the antennas themselves, SIMULIA electromagnetic simulation tools can also be used to design feeds and other components, such as tuning circuits, filters, multiplexers and waveguides, which form part of the antenna system. For more information, see Microwave & RF simulation.
The success of any wireless system begins with selecting the right antenna for the application. With so many different antenna types – and new designs appearing in literature all the time – it can be difficult to find the most suitable antenna for the job. SIMULIA Antenna Magus is a tool that allows users to search and explore a database of antennas.
Antenna design wizards
SIMULIA Antenna Magus design wizard can automatically suggest antenna types that fit the specifications and dimensions needed, and builds simulation-ready models tuned to the specified frequencies. Other SIMULIA synthesis tools including CST WASP-NET and FEST3D offer powerful design automation tools for specialist antenna and feed applications.
3D antenna simulation
The antenna design can be modified and analyzed in 3D in CST Studio Suite. Other elements such as feeds can be added and materials modified, and optimization can fine-tune the antenna performance taking coupling and parasitic effects into account. Standard antenna KPIs such as the farfield radiation pattern, directivity, gain and S-parameters, as well as specially defined KPIs for applications such as 5G, can be calculated. Nearfields can also be calculated and exported as sources for antenna placement simulation.
Antenna array simulation
Antenna arrays can be built up using the CST Studio Suite Array Wizard. Every stage of design, from the individual element, to optimization as an infinite array, to the final finite 3D array simulation, can be combined into an integrated workflow to help users quickly build an array model. Even extremely large arrays can be simulated rapidly with high-performance.
Antenna impedance matching
An antenna will usually be part of a larger module, and proximity effects from feeds, radomes, ground planes and other elements will impact performance. A matching circuit can correct for the impedance mismatch caused by installing an antenna on a module – simulation can find the tuning circuit values that achieve the best performance.
High power antenna design
For high-power vacuum applications, particularly in space, multipactor and corona effects can damage the feed. Simulation reveals potential failure modes, including thermal effects, to ensure the antenna will operate safely after launch.
Platform effects are also important. The platform an antenna is installed on can reflect, diffract or absorb radio waves and affect the antenna performance, while coupling between the antenna and the metal body of the platform can detune it. Whether the platform is a small and complex like a laptop or smartphone, or electrically very large such as a car, aircraft or cell tower, simulation can calculate installed performance and help find the ideal antenna placement.
Antenna Interference Effects
Complex environments such as streets, offices and factories can be simulated to calculate multipath propagation and expected coverage in realistic scenarios. Co-site interference and antenna desense can also be analyzed and mitigated with simulation. Interference between antenna systems can be analyzed with the CST Studio Suite Interference Task, which highlights potential EMI risks and helps engineers quickly mitigate them.
Antenna certification through simulation
Any device with transmit functionality has to be certified for numerous safety regulations covering topics such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) and human RF exposure. Simulation reveals field patterns inside realistic human body models, calculating specific absorption rate (SAR) and other RF exposure KPIs more efficiently than measurement can.
Bodies such as the FCC accept simulation data as an alternative to measurements for many certification purposes. Building and testing a virtual antenna prototype using simulation saves time and cost compared to traditional physical prototypes, allowing results to be obtained within hours or days instead of weeks or months. If a problem is identified, it can be quickly resolved and re-simulated, reducing the risk of expensive late-stage test failure.
Antenna Design User Stories
Webinars and Blogs on Antenna Simulation
Antennas Simulation in Industry
SIMULIA Electromagnetics Technology for Antenna Simulation
SIMULIA develops simulation technology that can be used to calculate electromagnetic fields in a wide range of application areas. We have developed dedicated technologies that can be used to design antennas and components efficiently. Depending on your working environment these technologies are available to you in various ways:
Electromagnetics on the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform
EM simulation software is a game changer when it comes to reducing the time and cost of bringing a product to market, not just in the high-tech industries of electronics and communication.
3DEXPERIENCE Works Electromagnetics
Electromagnetics Engineer is a high-performance 3D electromagnetic simulation solution. Powered by the industry proven CST Studio Suite, this cloud-enabled role delivers fast, effective simulation and design guidance of electro-mechanical devices, PCB’s, antennas in a truly multi-physics environment.
Antenna Magus is a software tool for the acceleration of the antenna design and modeling process. Validated antenna models can be exported to CST Studio Suite from a huge antenna database of over 350 antennas.
High design efficiency and fast product output are increasingly mission-critical for today’s microwave, antenna, space and communication industries. The hybrid EM CAD and optimization tool WASP-NET helps reduce time to market through extremely high simulation and optimization efficiency and accuracy.