Multiphysics Analysis of Plasma-Based Tunable Absorber for High Power Microwave Applications

Komlan Payne, Kevin Xu, Jun Hwan Choi, Jay K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Power handling capability of a tunable plasma-based multilayer absorber is studied using multiphysics analysis, then validated by experimental data. The proposed two-pole absorber is based on conductor-backed thickness customizable high-order bandpass frequency selective surfaces (FSSs). Such technique allows simple integration of the tuning elements, while simultaneously providing the option to realize FSSs (including absorbers) with specific/desired thicknesses and transfer responses. Lossy magneto-dielectric slabs, used to absorb electromagnetic energy in the C-band, are added between the metallic layers. The lossy slabs are perforated to host discrete, electrically tunable, ceramic gas-encapsulating chambers (plasma-shells), enabling dynamic control of the absorption spectral band. To study the power handling capability of the proposed multi-layered tunable absorber, dielectric and air breakdowns within the device are numerically emulated using EM simulation by quantifying the maximum field enhancement factor (MFEF). Furthermore, a comprehensive thermal analysis using a simulation method that couples electromagnetics and heat transfer is performed for the absorber under high power continuous microwave excitations. Since heat generated within the absorber is a primary concern, the steady state as well as transient state temperature distributions have been evaluated for various incident power densities. The performance of the proposed absorber is validated for a prototype having a finite size of 13×13 cm2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Active high impedance surface
  • circuit analog absorber
  • Couplings
  • Electromagnetic heating
  • electromagnetic interference
  • electromagnetic pulse
  • Frequency selective surfaces
  • high power microwave
  • lossy frequency selective surfaces
  • Magnetic multilayers
  • Microwave theory and techniques
  • radar cross section
  • RF plasma discharge
  • Substrates
  • tunable absorber
  • Tuning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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