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IEEE TRANSACTIONS
IEEE ONON
TRANSACTIONS ANTENNAS AND
ANTENNAS PROPAGATION,
AND VOL.
PROPAGATION, 64,64,
VOL. NO.NO.
6, JUNE 2016
6, JUNE 2015

High-Gain Circularly Polarized Microstrip Patch


Antenna with Loading of Shorting Pins
Xiao Zhang, Student member, IEEE, and Lei Zhu, Fellow, IEEE


AbstractA single-fed mcirostrip patch antenna (MPA) with
loading of shorting pins for high-gain circularly polarized (CP) d
radiation is proposed in this paper. Two sets of metallic pins are
symmetrically placed along the two orthogonal diagonals of a

(0, y0) feeding


square patch radiator at first. Due to the shunt inductive effect

r
brought by these shorting pins, the resonant frequency of the

z
D
y
dominant mode in this MPA is progressively tuned up so as to

W
x
enlarge the electrical size of this pins-loaded patch resonator and x
to enhance its radiation directivity. After the optimal loading

2R
position is investigated for maximum directivity of linear
polarization, one pair of inner pins are slightly shifted in an offset D
to properly separate the two degenerate modes, so that the CP
radiation can be excited. Moreover, upon the request, either W h
left-handed or right-handed circular polarization, i.e., LHCP or Fig. 1. Geometry of the proposed linearly polarized MPA with pins
RHCP, can be obtained by means of different position-offset symmetrically loaded along diagonals.
schemes of the inner pins along diagonals. After extensive analysis
is executed, two equal-size circularly polarized MPAs with and
without shorting pins are fabricated and tested. Simulated and axial-mode helical antennas will show noticeably high gain and
measured results show a good agreement, and demonstrate that good CP performance over a wide range of frequency band.
the CP directivity is enhanced from 8.0 (conventional MPA) to However, its profile is usually too high with respect to its
10.8 dBic, indicating 2.8 dB increment by means of the proposed wavelength, which is not suitable for size-sensitive application.
approach. MPAs are good candidates for compact CP antennas and
have been extensively investigated due to its low profile, light
Index TermsCircular polarization, high-gain microstrip
patch antennas, single-fed patch, and shorting pins. weight, and easy fabrication [2]. By virtue of introducing some
asymmetry, such as slots, stubs, and other truncated segments,
two orthogonal degenerate modes of a single-fed symmetric
I. INTRODUCTION patch antenna will be split in equal amplitude and quadrature
phase [3]-[4]. In this way, circular polarization is produced
IRCULARLY POLARIZED (CP) antennas have been widely
Cused in recent years due to their stable signal transmission without needing any external polarizer. In [5], it is discovered
that the resonant frequency of a rectangular patch antenna can
and reception properties in inclement weather and flexible
be tuned up by loading a few shorting posts or pins, within the
orientation between transmitters and receivers. In some
antennas boundaries. When a pair of shorting pins is placed
applications, such as small satellites and global positioning
near the center of a path along centerline or diagonal line, one
system (GPS), low-profile, light-weight, and high-gain CP
of the degenerate modes tends to be slightly shifted up without
antennas are highly demanded to improve the precision and
affecting the other one, and thus circular polarization can be
flexibility of the system.
excited by these two degenerate modes. Further, when these
In the past decades, many efforts have been devoted to the
shorting pins are replaced with PIN diodes, the antennas are
research on various kinds of CP antennas. One type of the most
able to produce switchable circular polarization by controlling
famous high-gain CP antennas is the helical antenna proposed
the on-off state of the diodes [6]-[8]. Nevertheless, all these CP
by Krauss [1], which has been widely applied in space
patch antennas have an inherent drawback of low radiation gain,
communication. When the number of turns increases, the
usually less than 8 dBic, which is not competent for mid- and
far-range communication.
Manuscript received on December 16, 2015. This work is supported by As a matter of fact, the gain of conventional MPAs is limited
National Natural Science Foundation of China under General Program
61571468, University of Macau under Multi-Year Research Grant
in a low level because of their limited size at resonance. For
MYRG2015-00010-FST and MYRG2014-00079-FST, and Macao Science and example, the length of a rectangular MPA is determined as
Technology Development Fund under FDCT Research Grant 051/2014/A1. about half a guide-wave wavelength of the dominant mode [3].
The authors are with the Department of Electrical and Computer
Although lower relative dielectric permittivity is advantageous
Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Macau, Macau
SAR, China (e-mails: yb47414@umac.mo; leizhu@umac.mo). for increasing patchs size and radiating area, the gain still

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2.7 2.7
9.5
d/W = 0 10.1
D/W = 0.7
2.5
2.6

D = 0.7 dB
Directivity at resonance (dBi)
Directivity at resonance (dBi)

9.0

Resonant frequency (GHz)


Resonant frequency (GHz)
9.9

D = 2.1 dB
2.3
8.5 2.5
9.7
2.1
D=0.7W
8.0 2.4
9.5
1.9

feeding

feeding
D

d
W W

7.5 9.3 2.3


1.7 d
D
W W
7.0 1.5 9.1 2.2
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
D/W d/W
(a) (b)
Fig. 2. Effect of pin position on resonant frequency and directivity of the MPA. (a) Inner pins fixed at d = 0. (b) Outer pins fixed at D/W = 0.7.

could not be effectively enhanced as expected. 0). Two sets of shorting pins, with radius of R, are
Till now, two distinctive techniques have been proposed to symmetrically placed along the diagonals of the patch, and each
enhance the directivity of MPAs. As the first technique, one or of them is placed in a square contour. The distance between two
a few parasitic radiating elements are stacked above and adjacent outer pins in x- and y-direction is set as D, and the
electromagnetically coupled to the primary patch in proper corresponding spacing for inner ones is expressed as d. A
distance [9]-[11], so as to enlarge the radiating area. However, coaxial probe is used to directly feed the patch from backside of
this kind of MPAs suffers from geometrical complexity and the ground along the y axis at (0, y0). In the remainder of this
difficulty in straightforward antenna design. The other is the paper, substrate Rogers5880 with thickness of h = 3.175 mm,
so-called superstrate technique, in which single or multiple relative permittivity of r = 2.2, and copper surface roughness
layers of dielectric [12]-[14], or frequency selected surfaces of 2.8 um is employed, and the ground plane of these antennas
(PRS) [15]-[17], are introduced above the fed patch to excite are assumed to be infinite in simulation unless explicitly stated.
leaky-wave propagation. Strictly speaking, the patch itself only Now lets investigate how the shorting pins affect the
serves as a driving source, rather than a radiating element, to resonant frequency and radiation directivity of the MPA. Here,
excite these leaky-wave modes in these substrate/superstrate the width of a square patch is selected as W = 60.0 mm, the
layers for radiation, and the gain of such antennas mainly radius of all the pins is set as R = 0.5 mm, and the spacing of
depends on the overall area of these superstrates. Thus, the inner pins is fixed as d = 0 at first to observe the effect of outer
afore-mentioned techniques could not be used to improve the pins by varying D. From the simulated results shown in Fig.
radiation gain of a single MPA unit itself. 2(a), we can find that when all the shorting pins are in the center
In this paper, a single-fed high-gain CP MPA, loaded with of patch, i.e., D = d = 0, the antenna resonates at 1.59 GHz and
shorting pins, is proposed. Two set of pins are at first obtains a directivity of 7.3 dBi, which is almost the same as the
symmetrically introduced and moved outwards along the conventional MPA without installing any shorting pins. As
diagonals of a square patch. Due to the shunt inductive effect of D/W increases, both the resonant frequency and directivity first
these shorting pins, the resonant frequency of the dominant rise up and then go down. The peak values emerge at D/W = 0.7,
mode in this MPA results to be tuned up [5]. As such, the and the maximum resonant frequency and directivity are found
electrical size of this MPA is effectively enlarged and the as 2.28 GHz and 9.4 dBi, respectively, showing 2.1 dB
radiation directivity is hence improved. After that, the two directivity enhancement.
degenerate modes are properly split to produce CP radiation by Next, lets fix the outer pins at D/W = 0.7 to investigate the
means of perturbing the position of one pair of inner pins. Both resonant frequency and directivity as a function of d, the
RHCP and LHCP can be accomplished by shifting the pins spacing of inner pins. As d/W increases from 0 to 1, the
positions in different ways. Simulation and measurement show resonant frequency and directivity vary in an oscillating way
that the proposed circularly polarized MPA can achieve a and reach their maxima at d/W = 0.5, as shown in Fig. 2(b). In
directivity of 10.8 dBic, with 2.8 dB increment compared with the case of d/W = 0.5, the patch antenna resonates at 2.56 GHz,
the conventional one without any shorting pins. with a directivity of 10.1 dBi, indicating an additional
increment of about 0.7 dB.
II. DIRECTIVITY OF THE PROPOSED ANTENNA From the analysis above and the results in Fig.2, we can
The operating principle of gain enhancement of the proposed conclude that the resonant frequency of the MPA can be
antenna will be illustrated in this chapter in terms of resonant substantially tuned up when the two sets of pins are placed at
frequency and directivity of a linearly polarized MPA. D/W = 0.7 and d/W = 0.5. Consequently, the electrical size of
Firstly, consider a square MPA as depicted in Fig. 1. The patch with respect to wavelength is hence significantly
patch with width of W lies on the xoy plane with its center at (0, enlarged, and the directivity of the MPA can be accordingly

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Fig. 3. Electric field distribution beneath the patch under different pin configurations. (a) D/W = d/W = 0 (equal to the conventional MPA without pins). (b)
D/W = 0.7, d/W = 0. (c) D/W = 0.7, d/W = 0.5.

150
L = 0 mm
120 L = 4.0 mm
L = 4.8 mm
90
L1

f1

Rin ()
2W
D=0.7W

feeding
/2

60
W

y
x
f2

30
L
2
f2

L1
0
f1
L2
120
D=0.7W

90 L = 0 mm
W
L = 4.0 mm
Fig. 4. Pin configuration in the patch for creating circular polarization. 60 L = 4.8 mm
Xin ()

30
improved with about 2.8 dB enhancement.
The working mechanism of the increased resonant frequency 0
and directivity can further be illustrated in terms of the electric -30
field distribution of the dominant mode. As shown in Fig. 3(a),
when all the shorting pins are placed in the center of patch with 2.40 2.45 2.50 2.55 2.60 2.65 2.70
D/W = d/W = 0, the perturbation brought by pins is negligible Frequency (GHz)
and the electric field vectors beneath the patch indicate a Fig. 5. Input impedance of the pin-loaded MPA in Fig. 3 as a function of
pin offset L (feeding point: y0 = 14 mm).
standard TM01 mode. If four pins are moved outwards along the
diagonals, as shown in Fig. 3(b), with D/W = 0.7 and d/W = 0, resonant frequency to achieve the expected high-gain CP
the shorting effect will notably reduce the field intensity near radiation.
them, so as to perturb the field distribution of the dominant As discussed in chapter II, the resonant frequency of the
mode. If another four pins are further moved from the center to MPA in Fig. 1 will reach a peak value when D/W = 0.7 and d/W
the periphery of this patch with D/W = 0.7 and d/W = 0.5, as = 0.5. If we continue to slightly perturb the spacing of one pair
shown in Fig. 3(c), the perturbation will become more of pins along a diagonal, the frequency of one resonant mode is
significant. Such field perturbation results to tune up the marginally shifted downwards, while that of the other keeps
resonant frequency and thus enhance the directivity. unchanged. When the two degenerate modes are appropriately
split by means of perturbation through the spacing between two
III. CIRCULAR POLARIZATION OF THE PROPOSED ANTENNA paired inner or outer pins, CP radiation can be generated. A
The pin-loaded MPA depicted in Fig. 1 and discussed in practical pin configuration for CP radiation is depicted in Fig. 4.
chapter II is arranged in symmetric structure, so its two Two inner pins at the +45 diagonal of the patch with
orthogonal dominant modes, i.e., two degenerate modes, have configuration of D/W = 0.7 and d/W = 0.5, are shifted along the
the same resonant frequency. In order to excite CP radiation diagonal in an additional separation of 2L. As such, the two
with single feeding point, these two modes should be properly pairs of inner pins are arranged in slight asymmetry, with the
split in resonant frequency in order to achieve their equal spacing along -45 and +45 diagonals to be L1 and L2,
amplitude and quadrature phase at an operating frequency. In respectively, as shown in Fig. 4. Similarly, the corresponding
this chapter, we will make use of the effect of these pins on modes are denoted as f1 and f2, respectively.

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-5

|S11| (dB)
Measured
-10 Simulated

(a) (b)
-15

-20
2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8
Frequency (GHz)
(a)
20

16
(c) (d)
Fig. 6. Surface current distribution on path among a time period at 2.53

Axial ratio (dB)


12 Simulated
GHz (L = 4.8 mm). (a) t = 0. (b) t = T/4. (c) t = 2T/4. (d) t = 3T/4.
Measured

8
L
(>
L

0
or

4
L1

<0
)

2W

f1
D = 0.7W

D = 0.7W
/2
f1

feeding
feeding

W
W

0
f2

/2

2.45 2.50 2.55 2.60 2.65


2W
)
<0

f2

Frequency (GHz)
or


0
(>

L
L
2
L

(b)
D = 0.7W D = 0.7W
Fig. 9. Simulated and measured results of the proposed CP patch antenna.
W W (a) Reflection coefficient, |S11|. (b) Axial ratio.
(a) (b)
Fig. 7. Pin configurations for different types of circular polarizations. (a)
RHCP. (b) LHCP. L = 4.8 mm, the input reactance turns to be kept constant from
about 2.51 GHz to 2.55 GHz. It can be qualitatively deduced
that mode 1 will approximately lead mode 2 by 90at about
2.53 GHz in phase, so as to produce the RHCP radiation upon
our expectation.
To confirm the CP performance of the proposed antenna, the
surface current distribution on patch is simulated and illustrated
for different time instants, i.e., t = 0, T/4, 2T/4, and 3T/4, where
T represents the periodicity of electromagnetic wave at 2.53
GHz. It is evident from Fig. 5 that two orthogonal modes are
simultaneously excited in 90 phase difference due to the
perturbation of pin-to-pin spacing. The surface current on patch
Fig. 8. Photographs of the proposed high-gain circularly polarized MPA
is symmetrically distributed with respect to the diagonals and it
(W = 60.0 mm, y0 = 14.0 mm, D/W = 0.7, L1 = 42.4 mm, L2 = 52.0 mm) and rotates circularly counterclockwise with increasing T, thereby
the conventional one (W = 60.0 mm, y0 = 14.0 mm) with the same width. demonstrating that the antenna is radiating RHCP wave.
As usual, different rotations of circular polarizations, i.e.,
To further observe the relationship of resonant modes and LHCP and RHCP, are desired in various applications. In light
pin configuration, the input impedance of the pin-loaded MPA of the analysis above, LHCP and RHCP can be obtained by
as a function of perturbing offset L is simulated and plotted in allocating the two degenerate modes to resonate at f1 and f2. The
Fig. 5. When L equals 0, the antenna works in TM01 mode and pin configurations for LHCP and RHCP will be discussed
produces linear polarization. In this case, the input resistance herein and the layouts of these CP patches are sketched in Fig. 7.
only has one peak at f1 and the input reactance has only one zero All the outer pins are fixed at D/W = 0.7, and one pair of the
crossing point over the range of 2.40 GHz -2.70 GHz. When L inner pins along the diagonal is symmetrically located in a
varies from 0 to 4.0 and 4.8 mm, a new peak of input resistance
spacing of 2W / 2 , which is equivalent to the case of d/W = 0.5.
begins to appear at f2 and go towards lower frequency. When

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0 () 0 ()
15 = 0 15 = 90
5 315
-45 45 5 -45
315 45
D D
-5 -5
RHCP, directivity (dBic)

RHCP, directivity (dBic)


-15 -15

-25 -25

-35 -90
270 90 -35 -90
270 90

-25 -25

-15 -15

-5 -5

5 225
-135 135 5 225
-135 135

Measured: Simulated: Measured: Simulated:


15 15
with pins 180 with pins with pins 180 with pins
no pins no pins no pins no pins
(a) (b)
Fig. 10. Simulated and measured RHCP radiation patterns of the proposed circularly polarized MPA at 2.546 GHz and the conventional one at 1.614 GHz in
polar coordinates. (a) = 0.(b) = 90.

12 12
= 0 D = 2.8 dB D = 2.8 dB
10
= 90
10
RHCP, directivity (dBic)

RHCP, directivity (dBic)

8 8

6 6

4 4
Measured: Simulated: Measured: Simulated:
with pins with pins with pins with pins
2 no pins no pins 2 no pins no pins

0 0
-60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60
Theta (degree) Theta (degree)
(a) (b)
Fig. 11. Simulated and measured RHCP radiation patterns of the proposed circularly polarized MPA at 2.546 GHz and the conventional one at 1.614 GHz in
Cartesian coordinates. (a) = 0.(b) = 90

The other two inner pins are slightly separated away with an Rogers5880, and the photographs of two fabricated antennas
offset of L along the diagonal, resulting in a spacing of are depicted in Fig. 8. The proposed MPA is loaded with two
2W / 2 2L . This offset L is referred as to a perturbation sets of pins, with radius of R = 0.5 mm, outer pins at D/W = 0.7,
element to split these two degenerate modes. When the pins and inner pins at L1 2W / 2 and L2 = L1 + 9.6 mm. The two
along the +45diagonal are perturbed, mode 2 gets certain patches have the same width of W = 60.0 mm, and the feeding
reduction in its resonant frequency, f2, so as to lag in phase, as points are both selected at y0 = 14.0 mm to be linked with the
shown in Fig. 7(a). In this context, the antenna radiates the 50- feeding probe. The overall size of ground plane for both
RHCP wave. On the contrary, as depicted in Fig. 7(b), if the antennas are readily chosen as 150.0 mm 150.0 mm, in order
-45pins are perturbed, f2 increases beyond f1 and lead in phase. to minimize the diffraction from finite ground and its effect on
In this case, the surface current on patch rotates clockwise and radiation patterns [18]-[19].
leads to LHCP radiation. Therefore, the CP rotation of the The simulated and measured reflection coefficients and axial
proposed antenna can be freely altered by choosing different ratios of the proposed CP antenna are plotted in Fig.9 (a) and
schemes of pin arrangements as desired in varied applications. (b), respectively, which agree with each other well. The
antenna gets good impedance matching over a frequency range
IV. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION of 2.51 to 2.62 GHz with |S11| less than -10 dB both in
To validate the proposed working principle, a pin-loaded CP simulation and measurement. The minimum simulated and
MPA and its conventional counterpart without any loaded measured axial ratios are 0.45 and 0.68 dB at 2.544 and 2.546
shorting pins are designed and fabricated on the substrate GHz, respectively, showing that the antenna operates in good

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CP performance.
TABLE I
To verify the gain enhancement of the proposed antenna, the RADIATION PARAMETERS OF THE TWO PATCH ANTENNAS
radiation patterns of the two MPAs with and without shorting Antennas With pins Without pins
pins are measured. The simulated and measured patterns of
simulated measured simulated measured
RHCP directivity in two principal planes, i.e., = 0and =
90 are plotted in Fig. 10 - Fig. 11, showing excellent 3dB( = 0) 52 51 72 71
agreement between simulation and measurement. In addition, 3dB( = 90) 52 51 72 71
the radiation efficiency, half-power beamwidth, radiation Efficiency 91% 90% 92% 91%
directivity, and gain of the proposed and conventional CP Directivity(dBic) 10.7 10.8 8.0 8.0
MPAs, both at their respective operating frequencies, are listed
Gain(dBic) 10.3 10.3 7.7 7.6
in TABLE I. From these results, we can see that the antenna
with loading of shorting pins turns out to have notably narrow
radiation beam as compared with the conventional one without [6] P. M. Haskins and J. S. Dahele, Varactor-diode loaded passive
any shorting pins. The half-power beamwidth of RHCP in the polarisation-agile patch antenna, Electron. Lett. vol. 30, no. 13, pp.
10741075, Jun. 1994.
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Artificial magnetic conductor surfaces and their application to
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the directivity of the proposed CP MPA has been raised up to [19] T. Namiki, Y. Murayama, and K. Ito, Improving radiation-pattern
10.8 dBic with 2.8 dB enhancement by virtue of the proposed distortion of a patch antenna having a finite ground plane, IEEE Trans.
design approach. Antennas Propag., vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 478482, Mar. 2003.

REFERENCES
Xiao Zhang (S15) was born in Gaozhou,
[1] J. D. Kraus and R. J. Marhefka, Antennas: For All Applications, 3rd ed.
New York, USA: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
Guangdong, China. He received the B.Eng.
[2] G. A. Deschamps, Microstrip microwave antennas, presented at the 3rd degree in information engineering and the
USAF Symp. on Antennas, 1953. M.Eng. degree in communication and
[3] K. R. Carver and J. W. Mink, Microstrip antenna technology, IEEE information systems from South China
Trans. Antennas Propag., vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 224, Jan. 1981.
[4] M. Haneishi and Y. Suzuki, Circular polarization and bandwidth, in
University of Technology, Guangzhou,
Handbook of Microstrip Antennas, London, U.K.: Peter Peregrinus, 1989, Guangdong, China, in 2011 and 2014,
pp. 220273. respectively. Currently, he is working
[5] D. Schaubert, F. G. Farrar, A. Sindoris, and S. T. Hayes, Microstrip toward the Ph.D degree at University of
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Antennas Propag., vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 118123, Jan. 1981.

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Macau. His research interest includes microwave circuits and


planar antennas with improved functionalities.

Lei Zhu (S91M93SM00F12)


received the B.Eng. and M.Eng. degrees
in radio engineering from the Nanjing
Institute of Technology (now Southeast
University), Nanjing, China, in 1985 and
1988, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree
in electronic engineering from the
University of Electro-Communications,
Tokyo, Japan, in 1993.
From 1993 to 1996, he was a Research Engineer with
Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd., Tokyo, Japan.
From 1996 to 2000, he was a Research Fellow with the cole
Polytechnique de Montral, Montral, QC, Canada. From 2000
to 2013, he was an Associate Professor with the School of
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological
University, Singapore. Since August 2013, he has been a Full
Professor with the Faculty of Science and Technology,
University of Macau, Macau, China. Since September 2014, he
has been serving as the Head of Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering, University of Macau. So far, he has
authored or coauthored more than 300 papers in international
journals and conference proceedings. His papers have been
cited more than 3630 times with the H-index of 33 (source: ISI
Web of Science). His research interests include microwave
circuits, guided-wave periodic structures, antennas, and
computational electromagnetic techniques.
Dr. Zhu was the Associate Editors for the IEEE
TRANSACTIONS ON MICROWAVE THEORY AND
TECHNIQUES (2010-2013) and IEEE MICROWAVE AND
WIRELESS COMPONENTS LETTERS (2006-2012). He
served as a General Chair of the 2008 IEEE MTT-S
International Microwave Workshop Series on the Art of
Miniaturizing RF and Microwave Passive Components,
Chengdu, China, and a Technical Program Committee
Co-Chair of the 2009 AsiaPacific Microwave Conference,
Singapore. He served as the member of IEEE MTT-S Fellow
Evaluation Committee (2013-2015), and has been serving as
the member of IEEE AP-S Fellows Committee (2015-now). He
was the recipient of the 1997 AsiaPacific Microwave Prize
Award, the 1996 Silver Award of Excellent Invention from
Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics Industries Ltd., and the 1993
First-Order Achievement Award in Science and Technology
from the National Education Committee, China.

0018-926X (c) 2015 IEEE. Personal use is permitted, but republication/redistribution requires IEEE permission. See http://www.ieee.org/publications_standards/publications/rights/index.html for more information.