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Guided propagation of radio waves
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  • Description:
    So far as the propagation of electromagnetic waves is concerned, an underground tunnel behaves like a pipe or hollowed waveguide. Waves propagate in this tunnel with a low attenuation only if their frequency is higher than a so-called critical frequency which depends on the shape and mostly on the cross -dimensions of the tunnel and which value is in the neighbourhood of several tenths of MHz. However, when a metallic conductor is stretched along the gallery the electromagnetic characteristics of the latter are considerably modified and the effect of the cut-off frequency disappears; this is due to the fact that the gallery equipped with such a conductor works like a coaxial cable where the conductor serves as the outward conductor and the wall of the gallery as the return conductor. This is the principle of the monofilar waveguide cable which has been perfectly studied by Gabillard. Two mean characteristics of the monofilar mode are as follows: first of all, when the cable is suspended in the middle of the cross section of the gallery, the electromagnetic field occupies all the space between the wire and the walls of the gallery. When the wire is close to the wall, the electromagnetic field tends to become concentrated between the wire and the wall, with the consequence that, with the given monofilar mode power, the aerial of a receiver standing somewhere in the tunnel will capture a weaker and weaker signal. Secondly, owing to the fact that the mode of monofilar propagation uses the ground as return conductor, its power of propagation is considerably diminished; the closer the wire is to the wall the higher the attenuation, for only a very small part of the wall is utilized as return conductor. To cover great distances, everything else being equal, two or more conductors must be placed in the gallery.

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