Infoscience

Journal article

PDMS, A Robust Casing for Flexible W-BAN Antennas [EurAAP Corner]

This paper describes a new technology for the realization of soft, flexible, and robust antennas intended to operate in a harsh environment. One of the main characteristics of the proposed technology is the ease of fabricating antennas in a simple lab environment. The method is based on the use of a silicon-based elastomer, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), for the substrate material, and copper meshes or any kind of perforated metal plates as flexible conductive materials. The initial liquid state of the PDMS allows a lot of freedom in the fabrication process, both from the electrical and mechanical points of view. The electrical and mechanical properties of the substrate can be adjusted by loading the PDMS with inclusions having low or high permittivity and/or density, thus controlling the permittivity and the rigidity. Another good characteristic of the initial low viscosity of PDMS is the possibility of shaping the antennas and substrates in in-house fabricated moulds. Copper meshes or perforated metal structures enable good adhesion between the substrate and 288 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, Vol. 55, No. 5, October 2013 conductor, and improve the overall flexibility. Measured results showed good repeatability of the substrate samples, both with or without inclusions. To demonstrate the versatility of the proposed technique, several antenna prototypes were built and characterized. All the antennas were flexible and showed good radiation characteristics. The antennas were exposed to tests such as washing and bending, in order to assess their robustness to environmental changes. © 2014 IEEE.

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