Inkjet Fabrication of Antennas

What is an Inkjet Antenna?

Inkjet fabrication of antennas is a process by which we use conductive polymer to coat materials to create conformal antennas.  We use a specialized inkjet printer for this method.

Why Study Inkjet Antennas?

The advantages presented in this technique include low-cost customized antenna configurations, flexible antennas (which can be rolled for transport), large area at antennas, non-metallic components for metal detection, and printing of antennas on non-traditional substrates (i.e. fabric, transparencies, stickers, etc.). At the end of one year of exploratory funding, Dr. Fontecchio anticipates demonstrating how conformal antenna arrays can be fabricated using ink{jet printing. Once this concept is demonstrated, there will be an application for normal program funding to investigate fundamental material properties and their resulting effects on system performance while also examining how much of the radio frequency transceiver chain can be implemented (i.e. matching networks, filters, mixers, etc.) using these techniques.

The method to be developed employs commercial ink-jet printers to coat conductive polymers, such as Poly(ethylene dioxythiophene) doped with poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS), onto flexible substrates. The ink-jet printing technique allows for the following:

  • customizable antenna configurations for specialized antennas

  • increased flexibility; excellent optical transparency in the visible region

  • good electrical conductivity

  • environmental stability.

It is therefore conceivable to create antennas which can be invisibly laminated onto automobile windows or bumpers to improve wireless communications to vehicles.

When the significant technological hurdles of this project are understood and overcome, this research will provide a significant payoff capable of revolutionizing information technology. The development of integrated antenna arrays will make possible ad-hoc broadband high-speed communications without the need for fixed infrastructure, which is currently lacking in most of the world today. This technology will open up third-world markets to internet and communications services which are inconceivable with current technologies.

Related Publications 

N.J. Kirsch, N.A. Vacirca, T.P. Kurzweg, A.K. Fontecchio, and K.R. Dandekar, Performance of Transparent Conductive Polymer Antennas in MIMO Ad-hoc Network, Submitted to IEEE Radio and Wireless Symposium, 2010.

N.J. Kirsch, N.A. Vacirca, E.E. Plowman, T.P. Kurzweg, A.K. Fontecchio, and K.R. Dandekar, Optically transparent conductive Polymer RFID Meandering Dipole Antenna, Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on RFID, 2009.



Printed single patch antenna

Printed single patch antenna

Flexible transparent base material