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A patch antenna (also known as a rectangular microstrip antenna) is a type of radio antenna with a low profile, which can be mounted on a flat surface. It consists of a flat rectangular sheet or "patch" of metal, mounted over a larger sheet of metal called a ground plane. The assembly is usually contained inside a plastic radome, which protects the antenna structure from damage. Patch antennas are simple to fabricate and easy to modify and customize. They are the original type of microstrip antenna described by Howell in 1972; the two metal sheets together form a resonant piece of microstrip transmission line with a length of approximately one-half wavelength of the radio waves. The radiation mechanism arises from discontinuities at each truncated edge of the microstrip transmission line. The radiation at the edges causes the antenna to act slightly larger electrically than its physical dimensions, so in order for the antenna to be resonant, a length of microstrip transmission line slightly shorter than one-half a wavelength at the frequency is used. A patch antenna is usually constructed on a dielectric substrate, using the same materials and lithography processes used to make printed circuit boards.
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