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1. EP3306327 - RÉSEAU D'ANTENNES, SYSTÈME ET PROCÉDÉ D'ESSAI D'UN DISPOSITIF SOUS ESSAI

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]
Description


[0001]  The invention relates to an antenna array for generating and/or receiving a plane wave in a certain distance, a test system as well as a method for testing a device under test.

[0002]  An antenna array usually comprises a plurality of individual antennas used to emit electromagnetic waves. The phases of the electromagnetic waves emitted by the individual antennas are adjusted for each antenna such that the whole antenna array is deemed to be one single antenna element emitting an electromagnetic signal having certain characteristics.

[0003]  The antenna array may be used as a part of a test system in order to test a device under test such as a communication device under far field conditions inside a small test chamber of the test system. If a large distance is provided between the transmitter and the receiver, the emitted electromagnetic wave corresponds to a plane wave. Thus, far field conditions of an antenna element relate to plane waves at the location of the receiver. However, the usage of an antenna array provides the opportunity to simulate far field conditions even though the distance is small since the electromagnetic signal transmitted by the antenna array corresponds to a plane wave at a certain distance. Accordingly, an antenna array is used wherein the antennas of the antenna array are controlled such that they generate electromagnetic waves which together form a plane wave at the location of the device under test, for instance. Thus, it is possible to measure and analyze the receiving and transmission properties of the device under test under far field conditions even though a small distance is provided between the antenna array and the device under test.

[0004]  Usually, the arrangement of the plurality of antennas within the antenna array is provided such that optimal performances are obtained. Accordingly, the antenna array is suitable for a specific application, in particular a certain distance between the antenna array and the device under test which in turn corresponds to a certain frequency of the plane wave and/or a specific size of the device under test.

[0005]  However, the user of such a test system, in particular such an antenna array, also wants to test devices which may have different sizes and/or test the same device with different frequencies. Thus, another antenna array has to be installed and calibrated in order to perform these further tests being of interest. This results in a lot of additional effort which in turn increase the costs of the measurements.

[0006]  US 2010/045555 A1 describes an antenna array that comprises several antennas which are movable with respect to each other.

[0007]  US 5,270,723 A shows an antenna array that is configured to generate and/or receive a plane wave in the near field.

[0008]  The invention provides an antenna array for generating and/or receiving a plane wave in a certain distance wherein the antenna array comprises a plurality of antennas which are movable with respect to each other and wherein the antenna array is configured such that plane waves are generated and/or received in the near field of the antenna array, wherein the antenna array is configured to adapt the plane wave zone distance of the antenna array by adjusting the distances and/or spaces of the antennas with respect to each other.

[0009]  Further, the invention provides a test system comprising a device under test and an antenna array as described above.

[0010]  Moreover, the invention provides a method for testing a device under test with an antenna array as described above or a test system as described above.

[0011]  The invention is based on the finding that the distances and/or spaces between the antennas of the antenna array correspond to the frequency of the plane wave. Since the several antennas can be moved with respect to each other, the frequency of the plane wave can be adjusted such that one and the same antenna array may be used for different frequencies and/or sizes of the device under test. Accordingly, measurements can be performed at different frequencies without changing the antenna array used for the measurements. However, the optimal characteristics can be maintained by adjusting the distances and/or spaces of the antennas with respect to each other resulting in an adaption of the plane wave zone distance of the antenna array. Hence, no further calibrations are necessary as only one antenna array is used in the dedicated test system. Thus, the test system has to be calibrated only once even though several different measurements can be performed. In addition, fewer antennas and transceivers are necessary for the antenna array according to the invention with respect to antenna arrays used in the state of the art. Furthermore, the power handling of the antenna array is improved. In addition, the costs of the antenna array are reduced.

[0012]  Particularly, the antennas of the antenna array are displaced in a mechanical manner.

[0013]  Generally, the antenna array can be deemed at least as a part of a plane wave converter and a near field planar wave generator, respectively.

[0014]  Thus, the antenna array is configured such that the plane wave zone distance of the antenna array is adjustable. The plane wave zone distance corresponds to the wavelength of the electromagnetic signals emitted which correlates with the frequency of the electromagnetic signals. Normally, the plane wave zone is the region of an emitter where the emitted signals can be approximated as plane waves. Thus, the plane wave distance is the distance from the emitter to the corresponding point at which the emitted signals can be approximated as plane waves. As the plane wave zone distance can be adjusted due to the moving antennas, different sizes of the device under test can be tested using the same antenna array. Furthermore, multiple frequencies may be used for the measurements since the plane wave zone distance can be shifted appropriately.

[0015]  According to another aspect, at least one of the movable antennas is movable in two directions, in particular in x-, y-, and z-direction. In general, more variances for the adjustment of the antenna array are provided, in particular the frequency of the plane wave and the plane wave zone distance within the near field of the antenna array, respectively. The more directions can be used for displacement of the antennas, the easier the adjustment of the frequency of the plane waves used for measuring the device under test. Furthermore, the usable frequency range for the measurements is enlarged even though only one antenna array is used.

[0016]  Further, at least one of the several antennas may be arranged such that the antenna is movable circularly, spirally, helically and/or linearly. The type of movement results in a different adjustment of the whole antenna array since the spaces and/or distances between the antennas are varied according to the specific movement. Particularly, coupled movements are possible which means that antennas may be moved circularly in x- and y-direction wherein they are also movable linearly in z-direction. Other coupled movements of the antennas are also possible.

[0017]  According to another aspect, the antennas are movable in different manner. For instance, some antennas may only be moved linearly whereas other antennas may be moved spirally. In general, different sections of the antenna array may be provided which comprise antennas wherein the antennas of a certain section can only move in a dedicated manner and/or direction, respectively.

[0018]  Moreover, the several antennas may be movable in groups, in particular in blocks. A block is formed by antennas being arranged directly adjacent to each other wherein a group of antennas may be distributed over the whole antenna array. For instance, an antenna in the upper left and an antenna in the lower right corner may form a group whereas for example three antennas being arranged next to each other in the lower left corner form a block. Moreover, several blocks may form a group. According to a certain embodiment, the several antennas may be displaced linearly in rows or in columns such that each antenna of the group and/or block is displaced in the same way.

[0019]  According to another aspect, the antenna array has a frame and a surface facing a device under test to be measured wherein the antennas are movable with respect to a reference point on the surface. The antenna array can be used to receive electromagnetic signals emitted by the device under test. Hence, the antennas are positioned such that they receive electromagnetic signals impinging the surface facing the device under test. Alternatively or supplementary, the antenna array emits electromagnetic signals. Thus, the antenna array is configured such that electromagnetic signals are emitted by the surface of the antenna array.

[0020]  For instance, a control unit is provided which is connected with the antennas such that the antennas are controlled via the control unit. The control unit can be connected with the antennas such that the antennas are moved according to a desired frequency or plane wave zone distance set by a user of the antenna array or the test system. Particularly, the control unit automatically adjusts the distances and/or spaces between the antennas such that the desired frequency of the plane wave and/or the desired plane wave zone distance is obtained. The control unit may also have an analysis function for the electromagnetic signals received by the antenna array.

[0021]  Moreover, a drive unit may be provided which drives the antennas such that the positions of the antennas are adjusted. The drive unit can be connected with the control unit which controls the drive unit such that the antennas are moved. Thus, the control unit controls the drive unit which drives the antennas appropriately. Accordingly, each of the antennas may adopt a certain position resulting in a certain frequency of the electromagnetic signals emitted by the antenna array, in particular in a certain frequency of the plane waves. The plane wave zone distance is shifted accordingly.

[0022]  Particularly, the several antennas are moved such that the plane wave zone distance of the antenna array and/or frequency are/is adjusted. The spaces and/or distances of the antennas with respect to each other influence the frequency of the electromagnetic signals emitted which in turn correlates to the plane wave zone distance of the antenna array.

[0023]  According to an aspect, plane waves are generated and/or received in the near field of the antenna array. Thus, the antenna array is configured such that the plurality of antennas emit electromagnetic waves which together form a signal corresponding to a plane wave used for constituting far field conditions even though the receiver (i.e. device under test) is positioned in the near field of the transmitter (i.e. antenna array).

[0024]  Particularly, properties of the device under test are measured in the plane wave zone. Receiving and transmission properties of the device under test can be measured under far field conditions even though the device under test is arranged in the near field of the antenna array as already mentioned.

[0025]  According to another aspect, the distance of the antenna array to the device under test is less than

In the formula, D is the aperture of the device under test and λ is the wavelength of the electromagnetic signal wherein the wavelength corresponds to the desired frequency. Thus, the distance between the antenna array and the device under test is smaller than the Fraunhofer distance d F represented by the formula mentioned above. Usually, the formula is used to distinguish the near field and the far field of an antenna element from each other. Accordingly, the device under test is positioned in the near field of the antenna array.

[0026]  The invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings, Figure 1 shows a test system according to the invention.

[0027]  In Figure 1, a test system 10 is shown which comprises a device under test 12 (DUT) such as a communication device and an antenna array 14 for generating and/or receiving a plane wave wherein the device under test 12 is positioned in a certain distance d with respect to the antenna array 14.

[0028]  The antenna array 14 has a frame 16 and a plurality of antennas 18 arranged in the frame 16 wherein the antennas 18 are arranged within the frame 16 such that the antennas 18 are movable with respect to each other as will be described later.

[0029]  Further, the antenna array 14 comprises a control unit 20 as well as a drive unit 22. The control unit 20 and the drive unit 22 are interconnected with each other such that the drive unit 22 is controlled by the control unit 20. The drive unit 22 is connected to the antennas 18 such that the position of the antennas 18 can be varied by driving signals. Thus, the antennas 18 are driven by the drive unit 22 upon commands received by the control unit 20.

[0030]  Accordingly, the distances and/or the spaces between neighbored antennas 18 can be varied by the drive unit 22.

[0031]  The frame 16 may comprise a main frame and a plurality of sub frames which correspond to the antennas 18. The sub frames are coupled to the main frame such that they can be moved with respect to the main frame resulting in a movement of the antennas 18 with respect to the main frame.

[0032]  The frame 16, in particular the main frame, may comprise a slot, channel or notch for each movable antenna 18, in particular the corresponding sub frames, wherein the movable antennas 18 can be moved along the corresponding slots, channels or notches.

[0033]  Generally, the antenna array 14 may be configured such that electromagnetic waves are emitted via the antennas 18 of the antenna array 14. The plurality of the emitted electromagnetic waves form an electromagnetic signal wherein this electromagnetic signal corresponds to a plane wave at the distance d where the device under test 12 is positioned. The distance d is defined by the distance between the device under test 12 and the antenna array 14, in particular a surface 24 facing the device under test 12. Accordingly, the receiving properties of the device under test 12 under far field conditions can be measured at the position of the device under test 12 since the device under test 12 receives a plane wave being typical for far field conditions.

[0034]  The corresponding plane wave zone P1 is illustrated in Figure 1 schematically.

[0035]  In general, the antenna array 14 is configured such that the plane wave zone is provided in the near field of the antenna array 14. Accordingly, the distance d is smaller than the Fraunhofer distance represented by the formula

Hence, the device under test 12 is positioned in the near field of the antenna array 14 even though it receives plane waves emitted by the antenna array 14 representing far field conditions.

[0036]  Since the antennas 18 are not fixed to certain positions with respect to the frame 16 of the antenna array 14 resulting in a specific frequency of the plane wave emitted by the antenna array 14, the frequency of the plane wave emitted by the antenna array 14 can be adapted. The frequency of the plane wave correlates with the plane wave zone distance being the distance at which the electromagnetic signal emitted by the antenna array 14 can be approximated by a plane wave used for simulating far field conditions.

[0037]  Accordingly, dynamic antenna spacing is provided as the spaces and/or distances between the antennas 18 can be amended dynamically.

[0038]  Accordingly, the antenna array 14 is configured such that its plane wave zone distance and/or the frequency of the emitted plane wave are/is adjustable by displacing the antennas 18 with respect to each other. This is also shown in Figure 1 since different plane wave zones P2, P3 are provided.

[0039]  Generally, the antennas 18 can be arranged such that they are movable in two or three directions, in particular the x-, y-, and z-direction. The antennas 18 can be displaced linearly along a predefined path within the frame, for instance. Alternatively or supplementary, the antennas 18 are movable in circular, spiral and/or helical manner.

[0040]  At least one antenna 18 may be formed as a rotatable circular ring such that circular movement of the antenna 18 is possible.

[0041]  Generally, the distances and/or spaces may be amended such that periodic changes occur, in particular regarding the rotation angle.

[0042]  For instance, coupled movements of each antenna 18 are possible which means that, for instance, at least one antenna 18 is moved in a spiral manner regarding the x- and y-plane whereas the same antenna 18 may also move linearly in z-direction. Other coupled movements of the antenna 18 are also suitable.

[0043]  Moreover, the several antennas 18 can be arranged and driven such that they are moved in different manner. For instance, the antennas 18 arranged in the corner portions of the frame 16 are moved in a different manner (i.e. circular manner) than the ones arranged in the middle of the frame 16 (i.e. linear manner).

[0044]  Additionally, the antennas 18 can be arranged in groups or blocks wherein all antennas 18 belonging to a group or block are displaced in the same way. Thus, antennas 18 being arranged in a row or a column can be moved linearly.

[0045]  For instance, the antennas 18 may perform a translational movement when they are driven by the drive unit 22. Thus, it is ensured that the orientation of the antennas 18 is maintained during the movement. Accordingly, no turning of the antenna with respect to its axis is provided.

[0046]  All the different movements can be controlled by the control unit 20 which controls the drive unit 22 appropriately such that the drive unit 22 drives the antennas 18 in accordance to the commands received. Due to the different movements of the antennas 18 with respect to each other, the spaces and/or distances of the antennas 18 between each other are adjusted resulting in different frequencies of the plane waves emitted by the antenna array 14.

[0047]  Alternatively to the above mentioned embodiment, the antenna array 14 can be used to receive electromagnetic signals emitted by the device under test 12. Again, the antennas 18 can be moved in order to vary the plane wave zone distance such that it is ensured that far field conditions are also obtained ensuring that the transmission properties of the device under test 12 can be measured under far field conditions.

[0048]  Generally, the antenna array 14 can be used to measure the receiving and/or transmission properties of the device under test 12 under far field conditions at different frequencies as the frequency of the plane wave emitted by the antenna array 14 may be varied due to the movable antennas 18. Accordingly, the frequency and/or plane wave zone distance is adjusted among different measurements without the need of interchanging the antenna array. Hence, no further calibration steps are required as only one antenna array 14 is used for all these measurements.

[0049]  The device under test 12 is measured in the plane wave zone of the antenna array 14 wherein the plane wave zone distance of the antenna array 14 is located within the near field of the antenna array 14. Thus, the device under test 12 is also located within the near field of the antenna array 14 even though it receives plane waves corresponding to far field conditions.

[0050]  In general, the method for measuring the device under test 12 is performed by using the test system 10. Accordingly, the test system 10 is used to measure the device under test 12 under far field conditions even though the distance d between the antenna array 14 and the device under test 12 is small. The plane wave zone distance is smaller than or equals the distance d between the antenna array 14 and the device under test 12 ensuring that the device under test 12 receives plane waves emitted by the antenna array 14.

[0051]  In addition, the test system 10 may comprise a chamber, in particular an anechoic chamber, wherein the antenna array 14 as well as the device under test 12 are positioned within this chamber.

[0052]  In general, the test system 10 is configured such that transmission and/or receiving properties of the device under test 12 can be measured in the plane wave zone of the antenna array 14.