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Overview of FEKO

What is FEKO?

FEKO is a comprehensive electromagnetic simulation software tool for the electromagnetic field analysis of 3D structures. It offers multiple state-of-the-art numerical methods for the solution of Maxwell’s equations, enabling its users to solve a wide range of electromagnetic problems encountered in various industries.

Applications
  • 3D antenna design
    analysis of horns, microstrip patches, wire antennas, reflector antennas, conformal antennas, broadband antennas, arrays
  • Antenna placement
    analysis of antenna radiation patterns, radiation hazard zones, etc. with an antenna placed on a large structure, e.g. ship, aircraft, armoured car
  • Electromagnetic coupling and interference (EMC, EMI)
    analysis of diverse EMC problems including shielding effectiveness of an enclosure, cable coupling analysis in complex environments, e.g. wiring in a car, radiation hazard analysis
  • Bio-electromagnetics
    analysis of homogeneous or non-homogeneous bodies, SAR extraction
  • 3D RF components
    analysis of waveguide structures, e.g. filter, slotted antennas, directional couplers
  • 3D EM circuits
    analysis of microstrip filters, couplers, inductors, etc.
  • Radomes
    analysis of multiple dielectric layers in a large structure
  • Scattering problems
    RCS analysis of large and small structures

Typical applications

Antenna Analysis

corrugated horn antenna near field

FEKO is well-suited to the analysis of wire antennas, horn and aperture antennas, reflector antennas, microstrip antennas, phased array antennas, conformal antennas, broadband antennas and more.  Many special formulations enable the analysis of practical antenna problems.

One example is a MoM-based solution method that was designed specifically for the analysis of windscreen antennas.  Multiple layers of windscreen glass can be taken into account, without meshing the glass.  Antenna elements may consist of either wire or metallic elements which are located inside a layer or on the boundary between adjacent layers.  Multiple windscreens may be included and coupling with external geometry, e.g. a car body, is accurately modelled.

A full 3D MoM formulation is available for the analysis of microstrip antennas with arbitrarily oriented metallic wires and surfaces in multi-layered dielectric media.  Interpolation tables are used for faster simulation times.

lte-antenna-smartphone-SAM.png

FEKO also offers solutions for mobile and wireless antennas.  Inherent parametric modelling and fast and accurate solvers provide quick insight into the initial design performance. CAD import filters can be used to add mechanical data, e.g. device housing and components, to the model. The optimisation platform is ideal for automated modification of the geometry to meet user specified goals.

Antenna Placement

ship navy various antennas

Measurements of the radiation characteristics of antennas mounted on large platforms are difficult or even impossible to perform, necessitating accurate simulation.  The MoM/FEM, MoM/PO,  MoM/RL-GO, MoM/UTD hybridisations and the MLFMM enable the analysis of antennas in electrically large environments where the interaction with the nearby structures influences the antenna characteristics, e.g. UHF antennas on aircraft or ships or GSM antennas on motor vehicles.  The visualisation of UTD rays can be very informative in identifying high frequency scattering and reflection points.

EMC Analysis

reverberation chamber

FEKO is used extensively for EMC analysis, especially in the automotive industry.  It has also been used in various lightning protection and RFI mitigation studies.  FEKO can efficiently calculate the radiation patterns and antenna factors of EMC antennas.  Another application is the investigation of the shielding effectiveness of enclosures, whether metallic or made of non-perfect screening materials.  A special technique for metallic enclosures allows for shielding factors of 200 dB or more to be computed.  It is also a powerful tool for the calculation and visualisation of surface currents and near-fields, and is relied on by engineers to guide them in electromagnetic interference (EMI) characterisation.

Cable Coupling Analysis

airbus with magnified cable image

Many problems of electromagnetic compatibility and interference involve cables, which either radiate through imperfect shields and cause coupling into other cables, devices or antennas, or which receive external electromagnetic fields and then cause disturbance voltages and currents which could potentially result in a malfunctioning of the system.  FEKO is useful for computing cable-to-cable and cable-to-device coupling and for the investigation of cable radiation effects. It can solve both radiation and irradiation problems, through standard multi-conductor transmission line (MTL) theory or its unique combined MoM/MTL solution method.

Supported cable types include single conductor, ribbon, twisted pair, predefined or specified coaxial cable, non-conducting elements and user-defined cable bundles.  If shielded, cables can be defined to have solid or braided shields.  FEKO provides an internal database listing the transfer impedances for more than 20 popular cable types and additionally allows users to specify their own cable transfer impedance and admittance properties.

Bio-Electromagnetics and Biomedical Applications

7T_head_coil_B1.png

While MoM offers efficient and accurate solutions for metallic structures, FEM excels at simulation of inhomogeneous dielectric geometries, such as human bodies. Therefore the hybridisation of these two methods is a natural choice for the biomedical industry.

MoM can be employed to design or analyse the performance of the radiating structure.  Dielectric sheets or coatings can also be analysed efficiently, and a dielectric half space can be used to mimic an anatomical load as an intermediate simulation step.  The final simulation of the radiator and detailed anatomical phantom can be analysed with hybridised MoM/FEM, enabling accurate field calculations inside the body for field propagation, dosimetry, SAR and safety analysis.  Typical applications include active and passive implants, hearing aids and other body worn antennas, hyperthermia and RF tissue ablation, MRI and other microwave imaging technologies.

Radiation Exposure Safety Studies

ICNIRP_transmitter_tower.png

The MoM or MLFMM may be used to compute near-field values around complex building and antenna structures where people work.  Isosurface plots are then instrumental in determining where the safety boundaries conforming to international radiation safety guidelines are located.  Such information is typically used to place signage and barriers at the site, ensuring safety of the public and personnel in proximity to the transmitters.

The fields inside lossy dielectric regions may be used for computation of the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).  FEKO reliably calculates the volume averaged SAR in 1g or 10g tissue cubes or as a whole body average.  It has been applied extensively in studies regarding the compliance of mobile phone antennas and cellular base stations to international radiation exposure guidelines.

Microwave and RF Components and Circuits

waveguide-step-transition.png

Components such as filters, circulators, couplers, power dividers, mixers, isolators and others can be simulated in FEKO.  Multi-layer planar dielectric MoM for the analysis of substrates can be used for the simulation of microstrip circuits. The FEM is available as an efficient method for solving closed waveguide structures.  Circuit co-simulation is often used for feeding and matching networks. Circuit schematics can be created with lumped elements, SPICE network models, S-, Z- and Y-parameter blocks and networks specified by data from Touchstone files.

Time Domain Analysis

pulse_signal_waveform

FEKO is based on a frequency domain formulation, but time domain information can be obtained by applying Fourier Transforms on broadband frequency-domain data.  An interface is provided in POSTFEKO which facilitates users in the specification of time domain pulse shapes.  Time domain analysis has successfully been applied to perform lightning strike analysis and to evaluate time domain characteristics of ultra-wideband antennas, such as fidelity.

GUI Features

FEKO offers a graphical user interface (GUI) with easy workflow, running on Windows or Linux. The GUI can be used every step of the way, from model creation in CADFEKO through to visualisation of results in POSTFEKO.

The scripting editor may be used for to automate model setup or for advanced post-processing of results.

The GUI provides 3D mouse support, which may be used as input device in addition to a keyboard and standard mouse for convenient manipulation of 3D objects.

airbus-cadfeko-suite-6p3-w350px.png

Modelling in CADFEKO

Functionality:
  • Interactive geometry specification.
  • Excitation and port definition.
  • Output requirement specification.
  • Optimisation setup.
  • Automated or custom meshing.
  • Solution control.
Features:
  • Create parametric models with variables and mathematical expressions which may be modified to change the geometry, meshing and/or material parameters (e.g. dielectric constant, coating, conductivity).
  • Create canonical structures (cylinders, polygons, spheres, cones, etc.) with the click of a button.
  • Perform boolean operations on geometry objects (e.g. split, union, intersect and subtract).
  • Define various types of curves and surfaces, including analytical curves, splines and NURBS surfaces.
  • Import externally computed lists of points for creation of lines, polygons, etc.
  • Create geometry by spinning, sweeping and lofting lines and curves.
  • Translate, rotate, scale, mirror and align objects.
  • Project points, curves and surfaces onto surfaces or solids.
  • Add cables with user specifiable paths, shields and cross sections.
  • Create surface meshes (triangles) or volume meshes (tetrahedra) with specifiable mesh density for any specific region of the geometry. Mesh features include:
    • Variable mesh densities in a single model to accurately and efficiently model small features
    • Mesh density specifiable on faces and edges
    • Mesh fixing tools
  • Import and export filters for complex geometry or mesh models in industry standard formats.
CAD formatsMesh formats
  • Parasolid
  • AutoCAD DXF
  • IGES
  • STEP
  • Pro/ENGINEER®
  • Unigraphics / NX
  • CATIA V4
  • CATIA V5
  • Gerber
  • 3Di
  • ODB++
  • ACIS SAT
  • FEKO mesh
  • FEMAP neutral
  • NASTRAN
  • meshed AUTOCAD DXF
  • STL mesh
  • PATRAN mesh
  • Ansys CDB file mesh
  • Concept mesh
  • ABAQUS mesh
  • Gerber
  • GiD
  • NEC
  • ASCII data format
  • Request multiple solution configurations, and set the following globally or per configuration:
    • Solution parameters (e.g. frequency, loads).
    • Excitations:
      • Voltage or current source at a port
      • Port definitions at wires, edges, waveguide aperture or stripline
      • Plane wave
      • Magnetic point source
      • Electric point source
      • Point source with specified radiation pattern
      • Impressed line currents
      • Near field aperture
      • Spherical modes
    • Calculation parameters (e.g. far-fields, near-fields, S-parameters, SAR analysis).
  • View and add components to network and cable schematics.
  • Tree based access to simulation elements (settings, materials, grids, results, etc.)
  • Ribbon based menus designed in support of the standard workflow
  • Quick launch toolbars to access global functionalities
  • Search bar for easy location and execution of functions and access to help
  • Selection, zooming, 3D mouse-only based handling, etc.
  • Full solver control via GUI

 

POSTFEKO-GUI-6p3


Post-processing with POSTFEKO

Functionality:

  • Model validation.
  • Post-processing and visualisation of results.

Features:

  • Support for multiple 2D and 3D views with multiple geometry (*.fek) and result (*.bof) files in a single session.
  • Radiation pattern (3D in model, 2D XY/polar)
  • Radiation and far field data, radar cross section (RCS), etc.
  • Full multiport S-parameter extraction
  • Several visualisation options for surfaces, incl. isosurfaces, 2D field cuts
  • Multiple results displayable in same viewport for comparison
  • Support for multiple results of the same type, e.g. displaying more than one near-field ortho-slice in the same 3D view.
  • 2D results can be displayed in various formats on Cartesian graphs, polar plots and Smith charts.
  • 3D views can be set up to display geometry, meshes, currents, near-fields and/or far-fields.
  • 2D graph measurements and annotations for values such as local and global maxima and minima, beamwidth, bandwidth and side lobe levels.
  • Multiple and arbitrarily oriented cutplanes with selectable cut entities are supported for 3D views.
  • Graph and data import and export (e.g. import of measurements for comparison purposes).
  • Advanced Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) display options (IEEE standard compliant whole body average, 10g cube localised, 1g cube localised)
  • UTD ray colours indicate their relative amplitudes.
  • Electrical surface currents and electrical charge density display options.
  • Characteristic mode currents, fields, eigenvalues, modal significance and characteristic angle display options.
  • Scripting based advanced post-processing as well as automation with the Lua POSTFEKO API.
  • Export of images and animations to popular file formats.
  • Automatic report generation via simple or template based mechanisms to MS PowerPoint, MS Word or PDF file formats.
  • Visualisation of optimisation results.
  • Support for time domain results processing.

Automatic Software Updates

  • For users with maintenance and support agreements
  • Update from online repository or local repository (on private network)

 

maxwells_equations.png

car FMM boxes


Numerical Methods

FEKO is based on the Method of Moments (MoM) and was the first commercial EM simulation software to utilise the multi-level fast multipole method (MLFMM) for the solution of electrically large problems when it was released with Suite 4.2 in June 2004.  FEKO added its first time domain technique with its finite difference time domain (FDTD) solver with Suite 7.0 in 2014.

In FEKO, the MoM is hybridised with the following solution techniques:

  • Finite Element Method (FEM)
  • Physical Optics (PO)
  • Ray-launching Geometric Optics (RL-GO)
  • Uniform Theory of Diffraction (UTD)

This hybridisation implies that these solution techniques can be applied to different parts of the same model to optimise the solution time and results.

    Solution Methods
    • Method of Moments (MoM)
    extended to a wide range of applications e.g. dielectric volumes, planar multi-layered structures, dielectric and magnetic coatings, thin dielectric sheets, ground plane reflections, periodic boundary conditions
    • Multilevel Fast Multipole Method (MLFMM)
    • Finite Element Method (FEM)
    • Physical Optics (PO)
    • Ray-launching Geometrical Optics (RL-GO)
    • Uniform Theory of Diffraction (UTD)
    • Multi-Conductor Transmission Line (MTL) Theory
    • Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD)
    Special Features
    • True hybridisation
    MoM with FEM, PO, RL-GO, UTD and MTL; MLFMM with FEM and PO
    • Multilayer planar Green's function for modelling of real earth or dielectric substrates
    • Optimisation
    • Adaptive frequency sampling
    Advanced adaptive frequency interpolation scheme for the efficient calculation of broadband responses
    • SPICE circuit co-simulation
    • Domain decomposition
    • Time domain analysis
    • Low frequency analysis
    • Adaptive Cross-Approximation (ACA)
    • Parallel processing
    • GPU acceleration
    • Out-of-core solution for large scale problems
    • Wide range of hardware supported
    • Media library
    • Frequency dependent material parameter specification: Debye, Cole-Cole, etc.

    Choice of Solver and Resource Scaling

    reflector_with_surface_currents.png

    gripen-currents-1p2GHz.png

    Full-wave techniques (MoM, FEM etc.) generally suffer from poor scalability.  This limits the electrical size of the problems that can be solved on typical computers.  When using field based solution techniques (FEM, FDTD), the discretisation of the field introduces a very small error as a wave propagates through the mesh. For very large meshes, these errors could add up, resulting in reduced accuracy in results.  The error can be reduced by using a finer discretisation (mesh), but this increases the resource requirements.

    The MoM does not require field discretisation, which means that the propagation distance does not degrade the accuracy of the results. With the MoM the memory required relates to the number of basis functions squared (N2). For general structures, a basis function density of about 100 basis functions per λ2 is recommended.  For 1 GByte RAM, and using no symmetry, this translates to a surface area of approximately 82λ2 that can be solved in-core. Larger problems can be solved using an efficient out-of-core solver in FEKO, but this solution is slower than an in-core solution.

    The memory requirements for MoM is proportional to N2, whereas that of the MLFMM is N*log(N) (for metallic surfaces N ≈ 100*(A/λ2) with A the surface area).  For large N this is a huge difference!

    Although FEKO offers the MLFMM which enables the analysis of electrically large problems, this accurate full-wave method is not sufficient for the solution of electrically huge structures (e.g. aircraft or ship at 10 GHz and above).

    FEKO offers asymptotic high frequency techniques (PO, RL-GO and the UTD) as solution to the scalability hurdles in such problems.  In the PO formulation the currents on the metallic surfaces are simply calculated from the incident field.  Large element PO (LE-PO) allows mesh sizes of multiple wavelengths and although it does not support multiple reflections, it can lead to dramatic computational cost savings in cases where it is applicable.  The RL-GO works by launching rays from each MoM element and placing Huygens sources on surfaces, while with the UTD only the closed form reflection and diffraction (edge and corner) coefficients are used in the solution.  The size of the object, therefore, does not influence the memory requirement.  The coefficients (terms) and the number of interactions do however influence the run-time.  The UTD formulation requires that the smallest dimension of the UTD objects be at least in the order of a wavelength.  Whereas the triangles (for PO and RL-GO) are well suited to represent complex geometry, the use of flat polygonal plates restrict the application of the UTD to geometries which can be modelled sufficiently with such plates (e.g. a ship).

    In FEKO, the generally applicable MoM has been hybridised with the Physical Optics (PO), ray-launching Geometrical Optics (RL-GO) and the Uniform Theory of Diffraction (UTD). This hybridisation enables the solution of large problems on small computers. The hybridisation allows for full wave analysis where required, and approximations to be used when applicable.

    Asymptotic predictions of memory usage for the MoM with and without MLFMM
    N MoM MLFMM Application
    100,000 150 GByte 1 GByte

    Military aircraft at 690 MHz
    Reflector antenna (aperture 19λ)

    200,000 600 GByte 2 GByte Military aircraft at 960 MHz
    Reflector antenna (aperture 27λ)
    400,000 2.4 TByte 4.5 GByte Military aircraft at 1.37 GHz
    Reflector antenna (aperture 38λ)
    1,000,000 15 TByte 12 GByte Military aircraft at 2.2 GHz
    Reflector antenna (aperture 60λ)

    Optimisation Functionality

    • Grid search (optimum for specified test points)
    • Linear search (Nelder-Mead)
    • Genetic Algorithms
    • Particle Swarm
    • GUI interface for construction of goal functions (fitness functions)
    • Weighted combination of multiple goal functions
    • Live feedback on optimisation process and goal function status

     

    Licensing