Although there are ways to improve the performance of small antennas, when it comes to reliable wireless communications, bigger is better. One way to make a large antenna more usable is to be able to store it in a much smaller space. Inflatable antennas are available now and researchers at Florida International University and Georgia Tech have some up with a way to use the Japanese art of origami to recreate remarkably compact and incredibly efficient antennas.
“By using origami geometries we can reconfigure antennas to whatever shape fits our purpose. These geometries offer unique advantages of collapsibility,” said Stavros Georgakopoulos, assistant professor in FIU’s department of electrical and computer engineering. “That’s important for a number of applications, such as technology that needs to be launched in space or used on the battlefield.”
Georgakopoulos and his team are working on developing unique shapes that would allow antennas to occupy only a couple of centimeters when folded flat, but expand into much larger antennas with powerful ultra-broadband capabilities. Paper has been most commonly used to fabricate the origami structures, but Georgakopoulos is exploring the use of plastics and flexible dielectric material. The antenna structures are created on the material using sophisticated ink-jet printing techniques to deposit conductive materials such as copper or silver onto the paper or other material.
The work is being supported by a $2,000,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
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