An antenna that goes the distance

KAUST researchers have developed the first-ever flexible, stretchable antenna for wearable electronics that can operate at a single continuous frequency over distances of up to 394 meters.

Reproduced with permission from Ref 1.© 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Wei

Many wearable and mobile gadgets rely on Bluetooth technology to transmit data, a method which is only effective over short distances and is unreliable for long-range communications. Researchers at KAUST have now developed a wearable, stretchable antenna capable of maintaining communications at a constant frequency over distances of up to 394 meters. 

Potential applications for wearable electronics include real-time medical devices that monitor a person’s vital signs and technology for training athletes. A sensor integrated into an athlete’s shirt, for example, could potentially share real-time data with a receiver across the stadium if the data could be transmitted efficiently at a constant frequency.

“Wearable electronics are prone to a lot of physical deformation, including stretching and twisting,” explained Muhammad Mustafa Hussain of the Integrated Nanotechnology Lab at KAUST, who led the project team of scientists from KAUST and the University of Illinois (U.S.) “Previous antenna designs used stretchable polymeric material and liquid metal, but because the physical dimensions of the antennas themselves were changing, they could not operate at a single frequency, and data transmission was badly disrupted.”

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