A Method to Realize Robust Flexible Electronically Tunable Antennas Using Polymer-Embedded Conductive Fabric

Publication Type:
Journal Article
IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, 2018, 66 (1), pp. 50 - 58
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© 1963-2012 IEEE. A new approach to realize robust, flexible, and electronically tunable wearable antennas is presented. Conductive fabric is used to form the conducting parts of the antenna on a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate. Then the antenna and the lumped (active and passive) elements, required for electronic tuning and RF choking, are fully encapsulated with additional layers of PDMS. As a concept demonstration, a new frequency-reconfigurable antenna has been designed and fabricated. The details of the prototype manufacturing process are described. Two UWB human muscle equivalent phantoms were also fabricated for testing purposes. Furthermore, the antenna was subjected to several investigations on its RF performance (both in free space and on a flat phantom) and mechanical stability. The latter includes bending tests on several locations on a human-body shaped phantom and washing in a household washing machine. Good agreement between predicted and experimental results (both in free space and on the phantom) is observed, validating the proposed concept. The tests demonstrated that lumped components and other antenna parts remained intact and in working order even under extreme bending (to a bending radius of 28 mm) and after washing, thus maintaining the overall antenna performance including good frequency reconfigurability from 2.3 to 2.68 GHz. To the best of our knowledge, all these features have never been demonstrated in previously published electronically tunable antennas.
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