Hand-held near-field microwave imagers would be useful for many applications including high-resolution brain imaging and monitoring heart motion and breathing. Miniaturization of microwave imagers would also benefit applications such as tracking objects in radar systems and low-power, high-speed communication links.
As a demonstration, the microwave imager was used to detect objects with metallic surfaces, including metallic squares measuring 24 centimeters on each side and the UPenn logo. After short microwave pulses illuminated each object placed in front of the imager, the four antennas received the reflected signals, which were used to form the image of each target object.
Now that they've demonstrated a chip-based microwave imager, the researchers plan to increase the number of pixels by upping the number of on-chip delay lines, using more advanced fabrication technologies and stitching together smaller images. They also want to use shorter microwave pulses to achieve higher resolution.