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Liquid Metal Antenna Tuning

Liquid Metal Antenna Tuning

Antennas resonate harmonically with radio waves according to how the length of the antenna matches the wavelength. Antennas can be tuned to a specific wavelength by changing their length. Using an applied voltage to change the length of some liquid metal, creates an antenna that can be tuned electronically. An antenna capable of tuning by shape shifting can be used for multiple purposes.

If we can do this, maybe we can create variable, re-configurable electronic circuits from liquid metal.

Tunable Liquid Metal Antennas – [aip.org]

Using electrochemistry, North Carolina State University researchers have created a reconfigurable, voltage-controlled liquid metal antenna that may play a huge role in future mobile devices and the coming Internet of Things

WASHINGTON D.C., May 19, 2015 — Researchers have held tremendous interest in liquid metal electronics for many years, but a significant and unfortunate drawback slowing the advance of such devices is that they tend to require external pumps that can’t be easily integrated into electronic systems.

So a team of North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers set out to create a reconfigurable liquid metal antenna controlled by voltage only, which they describe in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing.

Tunable Liquid Metal Antennas for Tuning in to Anything – [ieee.org]

Tuning in is getting to be a complicated thing. The Internet of Things will need more microwave bands with shorter wavelengths. Cell phones are already need to link to GPS and Wi-Fi services on top of 4G and other cellular networks. And in the future they’ll likely also have to contend millimeter-wave bands for 5G services. All those need antennas of different lengths and shapes to accommodate the sometimes widely spread wavelength bands.

Monopole antennas, consisting of a single conducting rod, transmit maximum power when their length corresponds to half the wavelength of the RF signal, but for devices operating at different wavelengths this becomes a problem. “The present solution is to have a switchable filter bank along with switchable and/or multi-band antenna,” says Jacob Adams, an engineer at North Carolina State University. “These solutions take up a lot of space and a single widely tunable element has the potential to replace several of these fixed components.” He and colleagues describe in today’s issue of the Journal of Applied Physics just such an element: a liquid metal antenna that can continuously adapt to different wavelengths by changing its length inside a capillary.

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