Conformal antennas have the potential to replace the mono/dipole antenna. Conformal antennas offer reduced number of antennas per vehicle, improved bandwidth, and essentially no visual signature. In particular, advances in magnetodielectric materials, conductive ink technology, and antenna design can translate into novel and high performance conformal antennas.
Luna and Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have implemented these technologies into a rapid prototyping process that can yield high performance, conformal antennas. Applications include a variety of platforms such as ground and aerial vehicles, satellites, helmets and jackets, and munitions.
Magnetodielectric substrates offer improvements over dielectric substrates by enhancing the miniaturization, impedance matching, and bandwidth. Luna has developed several varieties of magnetodielectric (MD) materials that offer excellent performance at a low cost. Teaming with (GTRI), Luna has validated these MD materials in high performance conformal antennas.
MD materials developed by Luna exhibit a permeability/permittivity ratio of ~0.5 in the operational electromagnetic field vector. Variations include:
- Flexible (low mechanical modulus) electromagnetically anisotropic materials
- Stiff (high mechanical modulus) electromagnetically anisotropic materials
- Flexible electromagnetically isotropic materials
Materials can be tailored to desired values of permeability, permittivity, and dielectric loss, and are currently being produced in 10-100 lb batches.
Inkjet Printing of Low-Cost Flexible Electronics
Luna has developed a methodology to produce low-cost flexible electronics by inkjet printing. After treatment, conductive ink will approach the resistivities of silver metal. Patterns are typically deposited on Kapton® polyimide. Printed patterns are highly mechanically and thermally robust, and are uniaxially flexible.
Other inks can easily be utilized in the inkjet printer to deposit patterns. Other possible substrates include flexible (Mylar®, paper, etc.) and stiff (polycarbonate, carbon composite, etc.). Printing resolution is typically on the 0.1-1 mm scale.
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Army under Contract No. W15P7T-11-C-H206. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Army.