When designing radomes (also called radar domes) or other types of signal transmitting antennas, engineers must pay close attention to the electrical properties of the materials used in and around those assemblies. The electrical characteristics of a material can be used to enhance an antenna design, whereas failure to account for these lesser-known factors can have catastrophic consequences.
Unique properties like the inorganic chemistry of silicone rubber make it an ideal candidate for use in critical antenna assemblies, and this is one of the reasons engineers specify silicone. Products like R10480S are soft, and conformable so they can seal out rain and salt water on a composite radar dome which can be flexible and wavy. Low-density foams such as MF1 are lightweight and long-lasting, so they make good spacers and insulators without contributing a risk of shedding or contamination. A silicone thermal gap pad like TC3008 can be used to help transfer heat away from a high powered amplifier or power supplier.
Some cutting-edge designs take advantage of these flexible materials to tune or bend signals, and this allows for more compact packaging – an advantage when aerodynamics, weight or space is important. In this type of application, the lesser known electrical properties of materials become more critical and must be understood.
Dielectric constant and loss tangent are two key material properties that are important as inputs during the simulation and design phase of an antenna assembly. Both of these properties describe how an electromagnetic wave transmits through a medium and are affected by thickness, density, cell structure, and pigments.
For many suppliers the dielectric and loss tangent of their materials is unknown, but Applications Engineers at Stockwell Elastomerics understand these factors and offer customers valuable insight and design support through the development and introduction of new products. Experienced with a variety signal transmitting applications, Stockwell Elastomerics’ Applications Engineers contribute expertise that can be translated into high-quality parts for customers.
Contact Stockwell Elastomerics for further assistance with engineering design and components for radome antenna assemblies.