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Microwave Frequency Band Capabilities

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[Duke University]


- Overview

Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging from 1 GHz to 300 GHz. The microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum is between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. The frequencies commonly used for communications are between 2–40 GHz. 

Microwaves have a wavelength range of 1 m to 0.01 m. They are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths shorter than other radio waves but longer than infrared waves. Because of their shorter physical wavelengths, these frequencies exhibit several unique characteristics. 

As such, they are suitable for a wide variety of unique and specific applications, from short-range to long-range communications, from detecting close-range objects to identifying light-years from beginning to end, from identifying small objects to mapping planetary surfaces, from the study of linear particle accelerators to the study of plasmas, from home cooking to industrial heating and more. 

Applications of microwaves can be broadly classified into the following attached fields: 

  • Military applications include ground and airborne radar, electronic warfare (including guided weapons), and satellite communications.
  • civilian applications include microwave radar (for police, boats, intruder alarms, and door openers), direct broadcast satellite (12 GHz), and mobile (1 -3 GHz band) and cellular (~1 GHz) communications. 


In order for these systems to function, they need devices that generate, detect and amplify microwave signals. Since the limit for silicon devices is ∼1.5 GHz, GaAs devices are preferred above this frequency. 

Microwave circuits are sometimes difficult to design because conductors such as stray solder act like antennas at these frequencies.


- Microwave Frequency Band Ranges and Capabilities

Microwave technology high power waveguide components spanning 50 MHz to 50 GHz – covering UHF, L, S, C, X, Ku, K and Ka frequency bands.

Below is a list of common microwave frequency band ranges, including their name origin & typical applications:

VHF   Band 30 to 300 MHz  Very High Frequency 
  • FM radio
  • Television broadcasts 
 UHF  Band 300 to 3000 MHz   Ultra High Frequency 
  • Television broadcasts 
  • Microwave oven
  • Microwave devices
  • Microwave devices
  • Communications
  • Radio astronomy
  • Mobile phones
  • Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 
L Band  1  to 2 GHz Long 
  • Military telemetry
  • GPS
  • Air traffic control (ATC) radar
S Band   2 to 4 GHz Short
  • Weather radar
  • Surface ship radar
  • Microwave ovens
  • Microwave devices
  • Communications  
C Band  4 to 8 GHz 
 Compromise (between S and X) 
  •  Long-distance radio telecommunications 
X Band  8 to 12 GHz X for “crosshair” (used in WW2 for fire control radar
  • Satellite communications
  • Radar
  • Terrestrial broadband
  • Space communications
Ku Band  12 to 18 GHz  Kurtz Under
  • Satellite communications 

K Band
18 to 26.5 GHz Kurtz (German for short)
  • Radar
  • Satellite communications
  • Astronomical observations
  • Automotive radar  
Ka Band  26.5 to 40 GHz Kurtz Above
  • Satellite communications  



- The Applications of Microwave Bands

Microwave bands have many applications, including: 

  • Wireless communication: Microwaves power mobile networks, Wi-Fi networks, and satellite communication. They are also used in Bluetooth and other wireless communications.
  • Radar: Microwaves are used in radars, radio navigation systems, and space communications.
  • Satellite communications: Most communication satellites use C-, X-, and Ku-bands to send signals to a ground station.
  • Remote sensing: Microwaves are used in remote sensing and radio astronomy.
  • Medical applications: Microwaves are used in medical diathermy and cancer treatment.
  • Cooking: Microwaves are used in cooking due to their heating application.
  • Other applications: Microwaves are used in deep space radio communications, sensor systems, particle accelerators, and spectroscopy.


- The Advantages of Microwave Bands

Microwave bands have many advantages, including:

  • Reliability: Microwaves are more reliable and stable than other wireless communication methods, such as radio waves. They are less likely to be affected by interference from environmental factors like buildings or adverse weather conditions.
  • High data throughput: E-band microwave technology can transmit large amounts of data at high speeds with low latency.
  • Small antenna size: E-band microwave technology has a compact antenna size, making it suitable for installations with limited space.
  • Low power consumption: Microwaves have low power consumption because their signals are of higher frequencies.
  • Strong anti-interference ability: Microwave radar sensors have a strong anti-interference ability.
  • Environmentally friendly: Microwave radar sensors are environmentally friendly.
  • Accurate and wide long-distance detection: Microwave radar sensors can accurately and widely detect multiple targets over long distances.
  • Improve heating processes: Microwaves and radio frequencies can both improve heating processes in industry and food industry. They can heat materials while preserving their quality, taste, and color.
  • Simple, efficient, and eco-friendly processes: Microwave radiation can accelerate processes and provide selectivities that are not possible with conventional heating.


[More to come ...]



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