Definition

antenna

An antenna is a specialized transducer that converts radio-frequency (RF) fields into alternating current (AC) or vice-versa. There are two basic types: the receiving antenna, which intercepts RF energy and delivers AC to electronic equipment, and the transmitting antenna, which is fed with AC from electronic equipment and generates an RF field.

In computer and Internet wireless applications, the most common type of antenna is the dish antenna, used for satellite communications.Dish antennas are generally practical only at microwave frequencies (above approximately 3 GHz). The dish consists of a paraboloidal or spherical reflector with an active element at its focus. When used for receiving, the dish collects RF from a distant source and focuses it at the activeelement.When used for transmitting, the active element radiates RF that is collimated by the reflector for delivery in a specific direction.

At frequencies below 3 GHz, many different types of antennas are used. The simplest is a length of wire, connected at one end to a transmitter or receiver. More often, the radiating/receiving element is placed at a distance from the transmitter or receiver, and AC is delivered to or from the antenna by means of an RF transmission line, also called a feed line or feeder.

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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