Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Richie, James E.

Second Advisor

Yaz, Edwin

Third Advisor

Luglio, Juan


Microstrip antennas are a type of printed antenna which consists of a patch on top of a grounded substrate. A major limitation for the performance of the patch antenna is the dielectric substrate. The idea of using air as dielectric was therefore considered to overcome that limitation because air has the lowest permittivity and no loss. The goal of this work is to build an air-spaced patch antenna, with the minimum resonant frequency at 1800 MHz and with a return loss of at least 10 dB.

This work is novel because the air-spaced patch antenna has not been extensively studied. Existing literature on patch antennas with dielectric were used for the design of the antenna (dimensions of the patch, ground plane and height) and to understand the principles of operation of microstrip patch antennas in general. Simulations using the NEC code and experiments in the RF laboratory were used for this air-spaced patch antenna study.

The Numerical Electromagnetic Code (NEC) was used as the simulation tool in this work. The air-spaced patch antenna was simulated to find a trend for the variation of the return loss and impedance with the resonant frequency. Simulation also helped determine cases that will not be meaningful to explore in the experiment.

The experiment was done in the RF laboratory of Marquette University College of Engineering. Two procedures were used to calculate the patch dimensions using two different sources ([2], [3]). They lead to two patch antennas that were tested. For each antenna, the height of the dielectric substrate and the recess feed distance were varied. Antenna 2 (procedure 2 "–" [3]) provided the best results with a resonant frequency of 1800 MHz and a return loss of 21 dB.

It was found that the error between experimental and simulation resonant frequency is generally 5% or less. This error increases as the dielectric height increases, and as the recess distance increases. Simulation results roughly follow the experimental results trend.