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article imageSpray-on antennas offer smart-tech breakthrough

By Tim Sandle     Oct 14, 2018 in Technology
Philadelphia - Scientists have constructed a novel method for spraying ultra-thin antennas composed if a two-dimensional metallic material. These antennae offer a range of applications linked to flexible, smart electronics.
The new metallic antennas have bene shown to perform comparably with antennas that are used with mobile devices and wireless routers, plus portable transducers. The new research comes from Drexel University (located in Philadelphia, U.S.)
The significance of the new process is that it would make installing an antenna suitable for next-generation flexible electronics very easy, on the same level as spray painting a wall.
Central to the process is the use of atomically thin two-dimensional metal inorganic compounds termed "MXenes". These materials possess special properties that are not found with more conventional three-dimensional materials. MXenes are just a few atoms thick and they are composed of layers of transition metal carbides, nitrides, or carbonitrides.
MXenes combine metallic conductivity of transition metal carbides and hydrophilic nature due to their hydroxyl or oxygen terminated surfaces. This relatively new class of materials has already been shown to be promising for energy storage applications, such as when used with lithium-ion batteries.
A key example of such a material is graphene, which is just a single layer of carbon. While graphene has many useful properties, it is limited by being composed of carbon, whereas MXenes offer a wider range of materials. For instance, an MXene formed from a titanium carbide material was used in the new research.
The researchers found that titanium carbide can be dissolved in water to create a paint, which can then be sprayed onto a surface. When dry, the ink retains the property of exceptional conductivity, which allows it to transmit and direct radio waves.
This was even with transparent antennas with thicknesses of just tens of nanometers, something that would allow for the seamless integration of such antennas with a range of smart technologies, helping to facilitate the Internet of Things.
Commenting on the research with EE News, lead researcher Dr. Kapil Dandekar said: “This is a very exciting finding because there is a lot of potential for this type of technology.”
He adds: “The ability to spray an antenna on a flexible substrate or make it optically transparent means that we could have a lot of new places to set up networks — there are new applications and new ways of collecting data that we can’t even imagine at the moment."
The new technology is described in the journal Science Advances, with the paper headed “2D titanium carbide (MXene) for wireless communication.”
More about internet of things, Antenna, smart technology, Communication
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