Towards reconfigurable RF devices based on dielectric elastomer actuators

Radio Frequency (RF) devices generate or control the transmission or reception of electromagnetic (EM) waves such as are used in mobile phones, WIFI etc. Microwave (MW) and millimeter‐wave (MMW) devices are used widely in satellite communications. Dynamic reconfiguration of MW/MMW devices and antennas is becoming a prime need in telecommunication applications, notably for updating in real time antenna characteristics such as coverage, polarization, or even operation frequency. However, available technologies (e.g. MMIC, RF‐MEMS, ferrite, liquid crystals) can result in increasing cost and complexity when a reconfigurable device is needed. Moreover, many of the current technologies suffer from higher EM losses compared to their non‐reconfigurable counterparts. We present a design for a tunable RF phase shifter based on a planar dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA). The design operates by laterally displacing conductors strips suspended above a coplanar waveguide. DEAs are compact, lightweight and are capable of generating large strains, hence such as device promises several advantages over current methodologies, principally low costs, low complexity and compactness. The design is also optimized to reduce losses compared to current methods. The design requires a lateral displacement of approximately 500 microns to achieve optimal phase shifting, our actuator meets this requirement whilst remaining as compact as possible. The phase shifter is the first step in the realization of fully reconfigurable antenna based on DEAs.

Presented at:
EuroEAP 2013 - Third international conference on Electromechanically Active Polymer (EAP) transducers & artificial muscles, Dübendorf, Zürich, Switzerland, 25/06/2013 - 26/06/2013

 Record created 2013-07-31, last modified 2018-03-18

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