Polarization in Electromagnetic Systems with Warren Stutzman

Artech House author Warren Stutzman gave us insights into his motivations for writing his book, Polarization in Electromagnetic Systems, Second Edition:

Electromagnetic waves are characterized by four parameters: frequency, intensity, direction of propagation, and polarization.  The last of these is the least understood and is often inadequately addressed in system design.  Perhaps that is due to familiarity with acoustic waves which lack polarization.  Polarization of electromagnetic waves has large impact on radio frequency communications.  By using dual orthogonal polarizations, channel capacity can be doubled on clear line-of-sight paths.  On cluttered paths, as encountered in cellular telephone channels, reliability and traffic throughput can be increased using dual orthogonal polarizations.  This is very popular on cell tower antenna installations where slant +45o and −45o antenna polarizations are used.

The motivation to write the book came from research at Virginia Tech on satellite communication links above 10 GHz.  This is the frequency range where rain induces signal attenuation that can cause loss of communications.  Earth-space communications often uses dual polarization to double channel capacity.  In addition to attenuation, rain depolarizes the signal which causes cross-talk (coupling between the orthogonally polarized channels) that can lead to an outage.  In the course of our research it became clear that there lacked a clear exposition on polarization theory and practice.  This prompted me to write a supplemental detailed  report to our sponsor, NASA, in 1977.  The report “A Polarization Primer” was made widely available by NASA.  Feedback from readers of the report encouraged me to turn the report into a book.  But one incident gave me a really good reason to move forward with the book.  I received a letter from an engineer in a large aerospace company.  The letter had a long list of what the writer thought were mistakes in my report.  This confirmed my impression that there was a general lack of understanding of polarization theory.  [I shouldn’t have done this, but I got out my well-used red pen and graded the letter as if it was an assignment in my classroom and sent it back to him.]  On the positive side, colleagues shared notes and experiences with polarization in practical systems, many of which I have included in the book.  The goal of the book is to present all basic principles complete with practical examples.  This includes formulas that are directly applicable to engineering situations.  The second edition expanded on system applications, now including chapters on: antenna polarization, antenna-wave interaction, dual-polarized systems, depolarizing media, polarization in wireless communication systems, and polarization measurements.

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