The dipole is a type of linear antenna which commonly features two monopole antennas of a quarter wavelength in size bent at 90 degree angles to each other. Another common size for the dipole is 1.25λ. These sizes will be discussed later.
It is important for beginning the study of the dipole antenna to discuss the infinitesimal dipole. This is the dipole which is smaller than 1/50 of the wavelength and is also known as a Hertzian dipole. This is an idealized component which does not exist, although it can serve as an approximation to large antennas which can be broken into smaller segments. The mathematics behind this can be found in “Antenna theory:Analysis and Design” by Constantine Balanis.
More importantly, three regions of radiation can be defined: the far field (where the radiation pattern is constant – this is where the radiation pattern is calculated), the reactive near field and the radiative near field.
As shown in the image, the reactive near field is when the range is less than the wavelength divided by 2π or when the range is less than 1/6 of the wavelength. The electric and magnetic fields in this region are 90 degrees out of phase and do not radiate. It is known that the E and H fields must be in phase to propagate. The radiating near field is where the range is between 1/6 of the wavelength and the value 2D^2 divided by the wavelength. This is also known as the Fresnel zone. Although the radiation pattern is not fully formed, propagating waves exist in this region. For the far field, r must be much, much greater than λ/2π.
The radiating patterns of the dipole antenna is pictured below, with both the E and H planes. The E plane (elevation angle pattern) is pictured on the bottom right and the H plane (Azimuthal angle) beside it on the left. The plots are given in dB scale. The radiation patterns can be understood by considering a pen. While facing the pen you can see the full length of the pen, but if you look down on the pen you can only see the tip or end. This is analogous to the dipole antenna where maximum radiation is broadside to the antenna and minimum radiation on the ends, leading to the figure 8 radiation pattern. When this radiation pattern in extended to three dimensions, the top left image is derived.