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[TowerTalk] Plasma antenna

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Plasma antenna
From: (Doug Brandon)
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 14:22:16 -0700 (PDT)
I ran across this interesting article on a new antenna technology
and thought some might find it interesting.  It sounds like it's only
good for digital transmissions, but it's definitely an interesting 

   73 de Doug, N6RT

Patriot announces contract with Navy for plasma antenna revolutionary 
patented antenna design

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 28, 1997-- Patriot Scientific Corp 
Monday announced the receipt of a contract from the Office of Naval 
Research for the development of its revolutionary plasma antenna. 

In coordination with the Navy Command Control Ocean Surveillance Center 
in Washington, D.C., Patriot will construct and test prototypes and 
characterize their use both as receiving and transmitting antennas. 
An earlier prototype has shown numerous unique characteristics. 

Patriot's technology represents a fundamental paradigm shift in antenna 
design. Traditional antenna design employs solid wire as the active 
element. All solid wire antennas resonate -- that is, as part of the 
process of emitting a radio wave during operation an unwanted ringing 
occurs which can interfere with signal processing. This ringing causes 
clutter and often requires sophisticated signal processing to reduce 
its effect. 

Inventor Elwood Norris commented: "We employ an ionized gas, or plasma, 
as the efficient conducting element of our antenna. This gas may be 
ionized for nanoseconds, which is only the precise time needed for 
transmission or reception, thus eliminating ringing and its associated 
effects. This ability to emit extremely short pulses is often a critical 
factor in many forms of digital communication." 

The company believes the use of an ionized gas antenna element allows: 

-- An antenna that can be dynamically reconfigured for 
   frequency, direction, bandwidth, gain and beamwidth. 

-- When de-ionized, the antenna's radar cross-section, thus its 
   detectability, is minimal thereby exhibiting stealth qualities. 

-- An antenna that is small and lightweight as well as 
   electronically steerable. 

In 1996, a patent with 48 claims was issued to Patriot and for a period 
of time the patent was classified "Secret." That status has now been 
removed. The technology was initially developed for the company's ground 
penetrating radar but has much broader applications. 

Antenna Project Manager Del Kintner commented: "This is the first contract 
of several we hope to secure as we move towards commercialization of this 
new technology. For military applications, size, weight, configurability 
and detectability are often critical factors. For commercial applications, 
size, weight, power and short pulse generation are key factors. 

  Doug Brandon

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