Spray-on antennas can be made extremely thin

October 10, 2018 // By Rich Pell
Researchers at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) have developed a method for spraying extremely thin antennas made from a two-dimensional (2D) metallic material that perform as well as those being used in mobile devices, wireless routers, and portable transducers.

The breakthrough, say the researchers, could make installing an antenna for next-generation flexible electronics "as easy as applying some bug spray." The key is the use of a new family of atomically thin 2D metal inorganic compounds - called "MXenes" – that have unique properties compared to conventional three-dimensional materials.

Graphene – which comprises just a single layer of carbon – is probably the most well-known 2D material, however it is limited to carbon in its composition. The new family of materials includes 2D early transition metal carbides, nitride, and carbonitrides. An MXene titanium carbide material was used in the Drexel research.

"This is a very exciting finding because there is a lot of potential for this type of technology," says Kapil Dandekar, PhD, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, who directs the Drexel Wireless Systems Lab, and was a co-author of the research. "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."

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