Regardless of its size, antennas play a crucial part in our ultra-connected society. It is necessary for communication, transmitting and receiving radio signals between devices. From sharing posts to connecting calls, antenna makes it all possible almost from anywhere. It gives us the relief to stay on the go. Just imagine how much connectivity could be achieved if installing an antenna becomes as easy as spraying paint.
At Drexel University, Researchers have developed a way to spray on antennas that are able to perform as well or better than traditional metal antennas (that's being currently used in our devices). Thus, this invention unlocks the potential of smart technology and encourages faster and easier IoT deployments.
Scientists claim that these Spray-on antennas have a lot of potential if they can outperform conventional antennas. This means we could have new places to construct networks that we never thought before. Even flexible substrates, data center walls or windows can turn into antennas. Such new applications could also lead you to new ways of collecting data.
How The Antenna Spray Works?
All it takes is a water-soluble titanium carbide powder - called MXene that was invented at Drexel in 2011 and can be pronounced as "maksens”- and water, to make the paint. The spray-on antennas work because of the MXene’s unique ability that transmits radio waves even when applied as thin coating just by spraying onto any surface.
In addition to it, scientists convey that few atoms thick MXene material is extremely conductive in nature with the added benefit of being thin and can be easily applied in a coating like paint.
The research group also focuses on reducing the thickness of materials in order to make transparent antennas - which are tens-of-nanometers to microns thick. According to Kapil Dandekar, co-author of the research, when antennas could be printed on virtually anything, it opens new doors to set up networks. Also, such transparent or invisible antennas would provide IoT weight reduction as well which is important for some tracking sensors used in shipping. By reducing thickness, you could also encounter less sensor power consumption. Let's take the example of a drone. A lighter drone will consume less power having the same battery size and will serve more in the air as compared to the heavier one. Further, the group concluded that a thin sample of MXene outperforms other nanomaterials like graphene. In fact, to achieve maximum benefit, the material should have an optimum thickness of one-tenth the thickness of paper.
Moreover, this antenna technology allows more flexibility and integration with things which could never be accomplished with incumbent aluminum, copper, and other metals. This makes MXene an excellent candidate for use in several applications.
Take IoT technology to new frontiers. Spray-on antennas are the future of communication. They occupy virtually no space and can turn almost any object into a fully functional transmitter with just a little spray. Can you think of all the things that you would like to paint and communicate with? It could be your lost socks, car keys, pets, roads and baby crib. This finding can definitely help us to connect in excitingly new ways.