Measuring spectral dielectric properties using gated time domain transmission measurements

R. Chawn Harlow, Eleanor J. Burke, Ty P.A. Ferré, John C. Bennett, W. James Shuttleworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A method to measure the frequency-dependent dielectric permittivity of simple materials based on a time domain transmission technique is described. A vector network analyzer (VNA) was connected to a twin-rod transmission line via a coaxial cable. The complex dielectric permittivity was found from the difference in phase and magnitude between a reference line surrounded by air and the same line surrounded by the substance of interest. The spectral response showed periodic variations in the dielectric permittivity as a result of multiple reflections in the experimental setup. These multiple reflections can be removed by using a time domain gate that selects only the primary transmission and filters out any subsequent reflections. It is essential that the apparatus be designed so that the first reflection is well separated from the primary transmission. This requires a long transmission line and along coaxial cable. However, if the transmission line is too long, excessive conductive or dielectric losses make it hard to detect the primary transmission. The application of the gated time domain transmission technique to measure the frequency-dependent dielectric permittivity of water, ethanol, sand and saturated sand is demonstrated. This method does not have the typical limitations on sample volume. In addition, it does not require the assumptions necessary in previous time domain spectroscopy methods applied to open transmission lines where a probe model is used in conjunction with simple Debye relaxation and/or inverse methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-432
Number of pages9
JournalVadose Zone Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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