Near-Field Antenna & Metamaterial Characterization Facility at ECERF (Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility)

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Area(s) of Expertise

All wireless communication – from smartphones to radar to GPS – relies fundamentally on the ability to measure the electromagnetic (EM) fields produced by antennas. The desire to control these EM fields has also spawned a new area of research in metamaterials: new materials exhibiting EM properties never before seen in nature, such as the ability to render objects invisible. The University of Alberta is at the forefront of these exciting new fields thanks to our one-of-a-kind, fully equipped near-field antenna- and metamaterial-characterization facility. This system is built around a state-of-the-art near-field robotic scanner, shielded anechoic chamber, and 43.5GHz vector network analyzer. Together, these components enable precise, automated antenna radiation-pattern measurements from RF/microwave to millimeter-wave frequencies, but they also provide customized capabilities for the observation of novel metamaterial imaging, radiation, and scattering phenomena. Our facility is one of Canada’s most capable and flexible antenna measurement systems and leads antenna and near-field measurement capabilities in Alberta.

What the facility does

Near-field Imaging, Antenna Radiation Pattern Measurement, Microwave Material Characterization, Benchtop Testing. This lab is part of ECERF (Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility).

Research Services

Antenna radiation pattern measurement, Microwave material characterization, Benchtop testing

Sectors of Application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Automotive
  • Defense and security industries
  • Information and communication technologies and media
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

Name of specialized lab

Name of equipment

Description of function

Facility for the Experimental Characterization of Metamaterial Imaging Devices, Radiating Structures, and Scattering Surfaces

Anechoic Chamber

•Shielded fully anechoic chamber

•Designed by ETS-Lindgren

•16'×12'×11' (L×W×H)

•18-inch flexible pyramidal-cone absorbers

•900MHz to 40GHz operating range

•3'×7' shielded door


Near-field Scanner

•Fully automated planar/cylindrical/spherical near-field scanner up to 40GHz

•Designed by Nearfield Systems

•5'×5' XY-scanning range

•5'×360° cylindrical scanning range

180°×360° spherical scanning range


◦5' + additional 10" on AUT side

◦4" on probe side

•360° probe rotation around Z

•Fully customizable fixtures on AUT side

•8-axis antenna range controllers

•Wired remote control

•Fully programmable/scriptable software GUI control of RF equipment, positioners, and processing functions


Waveguide Probes, HOMs, and Lenses

•Waveguide probes and assemblies from 0.7GHz to 40GHz:

◦0.7-10GHz (ridged horn)

◦1.7-2.6GHz (WR-430)

◦2.6-3.95GHz (WR-284)

◦3.95-5.85GHz (WR-187)

◦5.85-8.2GHz (WR-137)

◦8.2-12.4GHz (WR-90)

◦12.4-18GHz (WR-62)

◦18-26.5GHz (WR-42)

◦26.5-40GHz (WR-28)

•Standard-gain horns:

◦3.95-5.85GHz (WR-187, 2×15dB horns)

◦12.4-18GHz (WR-62, 1×25dB horn)

•Lenses for quasi-optical measurements and free-space material characterization

•Assorted stands/brackets/clamps


Vector Network Analyzer

•Agilent Technologies PNA-X Vector Network Analyzer

•2-port measurements from 10MHz to 43.5GHz

•126dB system with 129dB receiver dynamic range

•32001 points, 32 channels, and 5MHz IF bandwidth

•Up to 13dBm output power (<0.1dB compression), 40dB power sweep range, harmonics below -60dBc

•Noise floor below -110dBm at 10Hz IF bandwidth

•Flexible 2.4mm test cable set

•Mechanical 2.4mm calibration kit up to 50GHz

•Configured for antenna-chamber and benchtop measurements



New anechoic chamber brings unique research to U of A

ECE Department website URL