One, Two and Three Dimensional Real Array Radar Antennas Steered and Focused Using Fast Fourier Transform Techniques


Dr. Jim Henson of the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno has developed a simplified and multi-dimensional form of radar-antenna array.


Technology Summary

Existing radar systems include active electronically scanned array (AESA or active phased-array), passive electronically scanned array (PESA), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and inverse SAR (ISAR), all of which are limited in application. AESA involves several modules independently transmitting and receiving signals, all of which energize simultaneously; PESA sends a single RF signal to multiple phase-shift modules, which then simultaneously energize the radar elements. Both require the use of electronic phase shifters, which complicates their designs and introduces many possible points of failure. SAR produces a 2D radar image and has applications in remote sensing and mapping, but has a narrow effective beam, so the target must be relatively immobile. ISAR works better with moving targets and can generate high-resolution 2D images, but both SAR and ISAR demand computationally intensive post-processing and require that the radar be mounted on an object (i.e. an airplane) moving in a controlled manner.

This radar system can be arranged multi-dimensionally, allowing 3D imaging. Data collected can be processed using similar techniques to SAR for exhaustive detail, but can also be quickly and inexpensively interpreted using a Fourier transform on a digital-signal processing chip. The result is 3D radar with a simple and economical design, an agile alignment system, and application in broader and more rugged environments than traditional radar antenna arrays.


Potential Applications

This radar system provides 3D imaging (range, azimuth, and elevation data) without the need to focus on a narrow target, allowing the following applications:

  • Tracking air or automobile traffic (collision avoidance)
  • Defense and surveillance systems
  • Street and geographical mapping
  • Ground-penetrating radar
  • Weather forecasting


That this technology requires neither electronic phase shifters nor intensive data processing avails inexpensive and easy use in smaller, more agile systems:

  • Small aircraft with less predictable flight patterns (UAS, fighters, private planes, helicopters, etc.)
  • Weather balloons subject to sudden movements
  • Submarine radar systems
  • Imaging satellite movement



The University of Nevada is seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology. Developers of defense, surveillance, and imaging radar systems interested in manufacturing more agile and inexpensive radar technology are especially encouraged for intellectual property licensure.


IP Status

UNR ID#: UNR06-005
Multi-dimensional real-array radar antennas and systems steered and focused using fast fourier transforms

US Patent: No. 7,504,985

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Dan Langford
Technology Commercialization, Manager
University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute
James Henson
Ross Kohlmoos