Researchers have developed a new type of antenna array capable of enhancing sensing and communications applications.
Modern communication requirements have been exceeding technological aspects and their capabilities. Using sophisticated antennas with high-frequency wireless chips act like superpowers for modern electronics, boosting everything from sensing to security to data processing. Recent developments in antenna designs and the boom of 5G technology has helped engineers make strides toward peering through matter.
A team of researchers led by Kaushik Sengupta at Princeton University has been working on boating the power of communication technology. In their recent work they presented a new type of antenna array based on the paper-folding art of origami. The shape-shifting array, designed like a folded paper box called a waterbomb, allows engineers to create a reconfigurable and adaptable radar imaging surface.
The system was built by installing a new class of broadband metasurface antennas onto standard, flat panels. They connected a number of the antenna panels into a precisely designed origami surface with an offset checkerboard pattern. Through a proper sequence of folding and unfolding the panels, the array assumes a variety of different shapes like curves, saddles and spheres. With this ability to shift and expand, the origami system offers a wider resolution and has the ability to capture complex three-dimensional scenes beyond the capability of a standard antenna array.
The waterbomb antenna can morph its shape to manipulate electromagnetic waves in carefully calibrated ways. Combined with advanced algorithms, the waterbomb system can effectively process information from a wide range of electromagnetic fields. This shapeshifting ability allows engineers to expand the capabilities of devices used for sensing and imaging.
This system could vastly improve sensing technology needed for autonomous vehicles, robots and cyber-physical systems. The relative simplicity of the individual antenna systems also mean that the sensing arrays can be light and low-cost, making them easier to manufacture and deploy across a wide scale.
Reference : Suresh Venkatesh et al, Origami Microwave Imaging Array: Metasurface Tiles on a Shape‐Morphing Surface for Reconfigurable Computational Imaging, Advanced Science (2022). DOI: 10.1002/advs.202105016