Astronomical observations in the far-infrared are critical for investigation of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation and the formation and evolution of planets, stars and galaxies. In the case of space telescope receivers, a strong heritage exists for corrugated horn antenna feeds to couple the far-infrared signals to the detectors mounted in a waveguide or cavity structure. Such antenna feeds have been utilized, for example, in the Planck satellite in both single-mode channels for the observation of the CMB and the multi-mode channels optimised for the detection of foreground sources. Looking to the demands of the future space missions, it is clear that the development of new technology solutions for the optimization and simplification of horn antenna structures will be required for large arrays. Horn antennas will continue to offer excellent control of beam and polarization properties for CMB polarisation experiments satisfying stringent requirements on low sidelobe levels, symmetry, and low cross polarization in large arrays. Similarly for far infrared systems, multi-mode horn and waveguide cavity structures are proposed to enhance optical coupling of weak signals for cavity coupled bolometers.
In this paper we present a computationally efficient approach for modelling and optimising horn characteristics. We investigate smooth-walled horns that have an equivalent optical performance to that of corrugated horns traditionally used for CMB measurements. We discuss the horn optimisation process and the algorithms available to maximise performance of a merit parameter such as low cross polarisation or high Gaussicity. A single moded horn resulting from this design process has been constructed and experimentally verified in the W band. The results of the measurement campaign are presented in this paper and compared to the simulated results, showing a high level of agreement in co and cross polarisation radiation patterns, with low levels of integrated cross polar power.
For future Far IR receivers using waveguide bounded bolometers and absorbers, an optimisation of the waveguide structures and absorber location within the integrating cavity is critical to maximise coupling performance particularly for multimoded systems. We outline the benefit of using multi-moded horns in focal plane arrays and illustrate the increased optical sensitivity associated with a many-moded approach, which may be optimised for coupling to particular incident beams.