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Home » Conference Information » Short Courses Details » SC09 (T): Systematic Antenna Design with Characteristic Modes

SC09 (T): Systematic Antenna Design with Characteristic Modes

Buon Kiong Lau

Lund University, Sweden

Buon Kiong Lau received the Ph.D. degree from Curtin University of Technology, Australia, in 2003. Since 2004, he has been with the Department of Electrical and Information Technology, Lund University, where he is now a Professor. His primary research interests are in various aspects of multiple antenna systems, particularly the interplay between antennas, propagation channels, and signal processing.

Dr. Lau was an Associate Editor (AE), a Senior AE and a Track Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation (TAP) between 2010 and 2016. He was also a Guest Editor of the 2012 TAP Special Issue on MIMO Technology and the Lead Guest Editor of the 2016 TAP Special Issue on Theory and Application of Characteristic Modes. He was the Lead Guest Editor of the 2013 Special Cluster on Terminal Antenna Systems for 4G and Beyond for the IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters. From 2007 to 2010, he was a Co-Chair of Subworking Group 2.2 within EU COST Action 2100. From 2011 to 2015, he was the Chair of Subworking Group 1.1 within COST IC1004. He was the Regional Delegate of European Association on Antennas and Propagation (EurAAP) for Region 6 between 2012 and 2015. He is also a member of the Education Committee within the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society (AP-S), where he served as the Coordinator for the IEEE AP-S Student Design Contest from 2013-2015. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer of IEEE AP-S for the term 2017-2019. Dr. Lau received an award from the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation for exceptional performance as an associate editor during 2014-2015.

Since 2014, Dr. Lau initiated and leads an international Special Interest Group (SIG) on TCM (, which aims to promote research activities and applications of TCM in solving different problems in electromagnetics. He has over 20 publications in the topic of TCM, including 2 patent applications and 7 IEEE journal papers.

Zachary Thomas Miers

Lund University, Sweden

Zachary Thomas Miers received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. While at the University of Colorado he was awarded a National Science Foundation scholarship for Mentoring through Critical Transition Points, as well as an image processing research grant from the University of Colorado Applied Mathematics department. After graduating he has held multiple career positions in RF and microwave technologies, working to develop antennas for both commercial and government applications. He began his carrier working on RF noise suppression and signal integrity in RF sub-system assemblies at Picosecond Pulse Labs. Between 2007 and 2012, he was a principal microwave systems engineer working at FIRST RF Corporation in Boulder, CO, USA. While at FIRST RF he worked on a magnitude of specialized antenna systems ranging from 150MHz to 26.5GHz, with special focus surrounding unmanned aerial vehicle radar and communication systems. Mr. Miers is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree at the Department of Electrical and Information Technology, Lund University, Sweden. His main research interests include applications of characteristic modes in antenna design and development, advanced mobile platform communication systems utilizing MIMO technology, and antenna design and implementation utilizing chassis coupled, traveling wave, and non-mechanical beam steering antennas.


In the past, antenna engineering relied on customizing existing antenna structures to meet a set of requirements. Although spectacular advancements in computational electromagnetics and computational power over the past decade have helped shorten the design cycle, the heavy use of numerical optimization tools tends to diminish the important roles of creativity, insights, and experience in synthesizing new antenna structures.

In this context, the Theory of Characteristic Modes (TCM) perfectly interconnects modern computational electromagnetics with the creativity, insights, and experience of traditional antenna engineering. By extracting the inherent radiation properties of a structure, even new antenna engineers with little prior experience can utilize a TCM-based systematic and intelligent design approach, rather than relying on optimization algorithms or traditional brute force methods. 

Course content

This short course will illustrate how to use characteristic modes (CMs) to design many standard and complex antenna structures, showing how insights can be derived and common antenna knowledge can be used to design application specific antennas. Specifically, we will begin by motivating the fast-growing topic as a unique approach to obtain valuable physical insights into antenna design problems. Thereafter, we will summarize the basic concepts of TCM, including its derivation, characteristic attributes, and modal tracking. CM analysis will then be introduced, and a variety of examples will be given to illustrate the effectiveness of this analysis approach and the insights it provides. Next, the specific example of terminal antenna design will be given to illustrate how multiple characteristic modes can be exploited below 1 GHz to achieve MIMO antenna designs that not only provides high total efficiency and low correlation, but also substantial bandwidths. Moreover, it will be shown that the design approach works well for fully equipped terminals which includes integrated microphone, battery, screen, etcetera. At this point, we will present a basic overview of how to use TCM in all commercial electromagnetic suites that contain this feature (FEKO, CST, WIPL-D). To help those who do not have access to any of these commercial software suites, we will also introduce our in-house TCM software, which is based on Makarov’s Method-of-Moments Matlab code. The code will be shared to all attendees after the completion of the course. We will wrap up the course by presenting interesting future directions as well as giving some concluding remarks.

    In summary, the course content will be presented in the following order:

    ·  Course Objective

    ·  Physical Insights

    ·  Introduction to Characteristic Mode (CM) Concepts

    ·  Basic CM Analysis and Examples

    ·  Specialized Example (Terminal antenna)

    ·  Demonstration of CMA Tools

    ·  Future Directions

    ·  Concluding Remarks

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