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Antenna Design and Near-field Characterization for Medical Microwave Imaging Applications

Felício, J. M. ; Bioucas-Dias, J. ; Costa, J.R. ; Fernandes, C. A.

IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation Vol. 67, Nº 7, pp. 4811 - 4824, July, 2019.

ISSN (print): 0018-926X
ISSN (online): 0018-926X

Scimago Journal Ranking: 1,70 (in 2019)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/TAP.2019.2905742

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In medical microwave imaging (MMWI), the antennas usually operate at close distance from the body and are required to pick up weak echoes from the inside that are masked by high skin reflection. The near-field antenna behavior strongly determines how the received signals affect the effectiveness of the imaging algorithms. However, these usually simply assume the usual antenna far-field radiation characteristics. Here, we discuss three antenna effects that can deteriorate the overall imaging performance but are rarely addressed in the literature: antenna internal reflections, angular dispersion of the “near-field phase center” and antenna frequency dispersive electric length. We propose dedicated methods to characterize these factors, and present mitigation strategies to be integrated into the inversion algorithms. We demonstrate these effects for three frequently used broadband antennas, using signals from an experimental breast imaging lab setup. In fact, the antenna study and design cannot ignore that it operates in the near-field of breast and interacts with its boundary. The methods and conclusions can be extended to other MMWI applications. To the authors’ best knowledge, this is the first systematic study of the above antenna factors in the context of MMWI.