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3-D printing method advances electrically small antenna design
Date:3/16/2011

While most electronic components benefit from decreased size, antennaswhether in a cell phone or on an aircraftsuffer limitations in gain, efficiency, system range, and bandwidth when their size is reduced below a quarter-wavelength.

"Recent attention has been directed toward producing antennas by screen-printing, inkjet printing, and liquid metal-filled microfluidics in simple motifs, such as dipoles and loops," explained Jennifer T. Bernhard, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "However, these fabrication techniques are limited in both spatial resolution and dimensionality, yielding planar antennas that occupy a large area relative to the achieved performance."

"Omnidirectional printing of metallic nanoparticle inks offers an attractive alternative for meeting the demanding form factors of 3D electrically small antennas (ESAs)," stated Jennifer A. Lewis, the Hans Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory at Illinois.

"To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of 3D printed antennas on curvilinear surfaces," Lewis stated. The research findings and fabrication methods developed by Bernhard, Lewis, and their colleagues are featured in the cover article of the March 18 issue of Advanced Materials ("Conformal Printing of Electrically Small Antennas on Three-Dimensional Surfaces").

According to Bernhard, these antennas are electrically small relative to a wavelength (typically a twelfth of a wavelength or less) and exhibit performance metrics that are an order of magnitude better than those realized by monopole antenna designs.

"There has been a long-standing problem of minimizing the ratio of energy stored to energy radiatedthe Qof an ESA," Bernhard explained. "By printing directly on the hemispherical substrate, we have a highly versatile single-mode antenn
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Contact: Jennifer A. Lewis
jalewis@illinois.edu
217-244-4973
University of Illinois College of Engineering
Source:Eurekalert  

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