The field of microwave and antenna engineering has been an area of specialization in the Department for a long time. In 1986 the Electromagnetism Group under the leadership of Prof. J.A.G. Malherbe was awarded the first Centre of Excellence by the then Foundation for Research Development. In 1990 the Electromagnetism Group received a major stimulation with the opening of the Compact Antenna Test Range for antenna and radar cross section measurements. The facility was significantly upgraded during 2010. This facility, unique as a University-owned research laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere, enables the characterization of antennas in the frequency range from 0.75 to 40GHz.
A total of 43 Masters and 17 Doctoral candidates have graduated at the University in fields related to the work of the group. In the same period more than 200 articles were published in accredited research journals by academic staff and students of the Electromagnetism Group, and more than 120 presentations made at local and overseas conferences.
The Electromagnetism Group has a long standing specialization in a wide variety of microwave components and antennas. The Group also has research experience in computational methods and antenna measurement techniques. Current research activities of the Group include the following:
- The design and analysis of slot and planar antenna elements and arraying of such elements for a wide variety of applications.
- The use of metamaterials in single antenna elements and antenna arrays - with the aim to enhance the radiation properties of such antennas.
- Development of waveguide horn antennas and TEM horns of extreme bandwidth, suitable for impulse radar applications as well as wideband signal detection.
- Development of improved wideband double- and quad-ridged horn antennas.
- Design and analysis of passive microwave components such as filters, impedance matching networks, coax-to-waveguide transitions, etc.
- Improvement of antenna measurement techniques, eg. improved gain accuracy, calibration of UWB antennas using complex transfer functions.