March 23, 2011 AT 10:31 am

3D Printing Cellphone Antennae

From IEEE Spectrum:

Mobile phones where the batteries run down in a few hours are really annoying but I think dropped calls from bad reception runs a close second in my annoyance scale.

I may not have to wait that long if research at the University of Illinois in making a 3D antenna for mobile phones can successfully make it commercially available cell phones.

The research, which was initially published in the Wiley journal Advanced Materials, employed an ink jet printing method that used silver nanoparticles and were sprayed on the inside or the ourside of a small hemispherical dome.

The functionality of antennas for mobile phones has not fared well in the overall miniaturization of the gadgets with characteristics such as gain, efficiency, bandwidth, and range all suffering.

According Jennifer T. Bernhard, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois, the 3D antennas that the research team has developed are an order of magnitude better in performance metrics than the typical monopole designs.

“There has been a long-standing problem of minimizing the ratio of energy stored to energy radiated—the Q—of an ESA,” Bernhard explains in the article. “By printing directly on the hemispherical substrate, we have a highly versatile single-mode antenna with a Q that very closely approaches the fundamental limit dictated by physics (known as the Chu limit).”

The first person to do this with an Eggbot wins my eternal admiration!


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