Development of a W-band gyro-amplifier for high power, wideband, pulsed coherent applications.

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The project will consolidate our technology in developing a new class of high power, wideband millimetre wave amplifier which offers a ten-fold increase in available bandwidth and a five-fold increase in available peak power over the amplifiers used in current pulsed coherent applications such as radar, magnetic resonance, security imaging and remote sensing. It will bring step changes to these applications and the success of this research will have a huge worldwide technological impact and offer tremendous economic benefit to the UK. The proposal is a collaboration between two major millimetre wave groups at the University of Strathclyde and the University of St Andrews who collectively have decades of experience and vibrant international reputations in the development of high power millimetre wave sources, radars, instrumentation and components, plus a strong track record in commercialisation, industrial collaboration, and delivering on project objectives. The gyro-amplifier represents a core technology that is likely to lead to UK leadership in the field of high power millimetre wave radar.

Pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP) enhanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) instruments based on this gyro-amplifier technology will result in radically improved sensitivities. The EPR and DNP enhanced NMR (including the possibility of pulsed DNP-NMR and the use of phase and amplitude modulation) experiments will give rise to absolutely world-leading research. It will strongly enhance the UK's position as a world leader in a wide range of academic research areas, including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and medicine.

Atmospheric sensing and space debris tracking based on such an amplifier will allow long range monitoring of clouds, aerosols, precipitation (therefore enabling better global climate and pollution models for better prediction of weather and pollution, better management of natural resources and mitigation of natural hazards) and tracking of space debris (increasing safety for space travel and satellite launching). This will lead to greater radar sensitivity, enabling measurement of smaller or more tenuous particulates, with finer resolution, at longer ranges or in a shorter timescale. The technology also has the potential to be applied to the ground based mapping of space debris, a major consideration for all orbiting systems including environmental monitoring satellites.

The high power capability of hundreds watts of the gyro-amplifier in this region will allow standoff, real time video rate security imaging and sensing enabling high resolution 3D imaging and highly sensitive sensing of most hidden contrabands such as explosives, illegal drugs and chemical and biological materials. The project has the potential to disrupt a large fraction of the existing X-ray based security market. The research team at Strathclyde is a world leader in this "terahertz amplification" area and can realise the application pull through collaborating with wide UK terahertz imaging and sensing community and industries.


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Description We developed a millimetre wave pulsed radar operating at 94 GHz which was to be paired with an experimental high power vacuum tube amplifier being developed by our partners at the University of Strathclyde. The radar was fully coherent such that it could measure the Doppler response from moving targets. We also developed large diameter Fresnel zone plate antennas which performed very well and offer a low-cost solution for providing narrow beams at millimetre wavelengths. Potential future applications for this type of high power radar include profiling clouds, imaging satellites in space, and use in magnetic resonance spectrometers which are used to investigate the functional properties of materials by probing their electron structure.
Exploitation Route Both designs of feedhorns (corrugated and smooth-walled) were published and may be useful in a variety of applications for millimetre wave signals.
The pulsed coherent radar performed very well and was published - this may provide useful design information to researchers developing pulsed coherent millimetre wave radars.
The large diameter Fresnel zone plate antennas are a cost-effective method for generating narrow beams at millimetre wavelengths such as in communications links and radar systems.
The radar electronics and the zone plates were subsequently incorporated into a prototype cloud profiling radar.

We have been able to secure further funding based on the previous research in order to apply this technology to high power radar for space object identification. This is an increasingly important topic due to the growth in the amount of space debris and the proliferation of small satellites e.g. CubeSats.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Environment,Security and Diplomacy

Description High power, wideband millimetre wave source for space object identification
Amount £198,719 (GBP)
Funding ID DSTLX1000140749 / ACC6007910 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 08/2020
Description Collaboration with University of Strathclyde 
Organisation University of Strathclyde
Department Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We built a radar system to test and demonstrate the high power amplifier being developed at Strathclyde. We contributed to the design process of the high power amplifier. We jointly wrote publications.
Collaborator Contribution Strathclyde led the development of the high power amplifier. they also provided advice on experimental installation which guided the design of our radar. We jointly wrote publications.
Impact Four joint publications on feedhorn design.
Start Year 2010
Description Astrodynamics Community of Interest Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop at Chilbolton Observatory to consider Novel RF Techniques for Space Situational Awareness (SSA).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Astrodynamics Community of Interest Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The ACI Workshop series aims to share knowledge, ideas and gain awareness of who is conducting UK research applicable to the surveillance of space. I gave a presentation entitled "Imaging Radar for Space Object Characterisation" highlighting the potential for the high power amplifier research being done in our collaboration with Strathclyde University which could be applicable for space object imaging radar.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015