Stretchable and Flexible E-Fiber Wire Antennas
T2015-042 A new process to fabricate stretchable and flexible wire antennas with conductive fibers (E-fibers)
Current processes to manufacture flexible, mechanically durable antennas on E-fibers yield non-stretchable prototypes and lack fine print details. The geometric accuracy of printed antennas is less than 1 mm, and the devices are prone to failure due to fatigue and wear from deformation. The antennas can also be complicated and difficult to reproduce. Thus, current products are not suitable for applications that require high flexibility and are subject to continuous mechanical deformation. An innovative technology that can withstand deformation, maintain excellent performance, and print with high geometrical accuracy is needed.
Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. John L. Volakis, have developed a fabrication process for stretchable and flexible wire antennas with conductive fibers (or E-fibers). During this process, the wire antenna is embroidered using E-fibers and embedding into a flexible polymer with a printed geometrical accuracy of 0.3 mm. The resulting E-fiber antenna can endure repetitive deformations and corrosion. Initial tests in truck tires to transmit their history, temperature, pressure, and stress have shown comparable performance to that of their copper foil and copper wire counterparts.
- Consumer wearable electronics
- Increased durability
- Corrosion resistant
- Greater printed geometrical accuracy (0.3 mm)
- Comparable performance to copper counterparts
The Ohio State University laboratory that developed this technology has expertise in the design of antennas and sensors for body area applications, including both wearables and implants. The lab is focused on functionalizing fabrics with wireless functionalities for communications and sensing, as well as engineering novel classes of wearable/implantable antennas that exceed the state-of-the-art boundaries of radio-frequency performance. The lab is open for collaboration for further products and investigational routes.