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Nathaniel Curtis,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technology (GREATT)
URL: http://csats.psu.edu/GREATT/

Thesis Title: Miniaturizing RF Components Using Multilayer Manufacturing Methods
College/University: Pennsylvania State University

Research Advisor: Lynn Carpenter

Degree Sought
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering

University Department and/or Lab
Electrical Engineering/ Microwave Engineering

Research Focus
My research involves miniaturizing such RF components as filters and directional couplers through a multilayered design approach.

Description of Research
My research is on miniaturizing microwave components such as filters and directional couplers. Most microwave filters and directional couplers built using microstrip line technology are planar in nature and thus take up added printed circuit board footprint. Recent developments in research and understanding take advantage of image theory to eliminate the need for a single ground plane so that the filter and directional coupler sections may be stacked. This results in a size reduction of multi-sectioned microstrip filters and directional couplers. My work specifically investigates the circuit size reduction when varying dielectric constants within the stacked layers of the filter or directional coupler are strategically placed as well as the additional design freedoms that result from using asymmetric transmission lines within the multilayer structure. My investigation will also explore fabrication of these devices and the issues that result.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
My students are often exposed to aspects of my research. One thing they enjoy in particular is circuit design. We have students construct their own circuits using lemons, limes and potatoes to power them. They then measure circuit parameters such as voltage, resistance, and current. The students are also exposed to a pre-lab lecture that discusses the difference between a parallel circuit and series circuit and then are exposed to the differences as they perform the lab and measure the parameters. They also learn how to miniaturize their circuit while still achieving the same results by using more powerful sources or a different setup depending on the requirements.

Profile date: September 2007
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