Printed Antennas / IoT

One of the challenges facing the companies deploying the 20 BILLION plus devices that will represent the IoT (Internet of Things) is where to hide all the antennas. For those making devices that depend upon RF to function that has always been the challengedesign and integrate a functional antenna without it being obtrusive or sacrificing performance.

For traditional "box" dimensioned electronics like computers and cell phones the conventional design approach has been to run a metallic antenna around the outer rim of the case. While functional, these designs tend to be at least somewhat directional and sacrifice performance to the other materials in close proximity. The tradeoff that accompanies this integration is either less performance or more material.

IoT device designers are going to be faced with additional challenges. People, at least to some extent, expect computers and computing devices to be "boxy"...even ugly. Their appliances, lighting fixtures, and other home furnishings....another story entirely. To bridge the gap between technology and the human lifestyle will require the technology component to be invisible.

 

Marketing Icon

The term "invisible," as it applies to an antenna can mean hidden, or it can mean truly invisible. To be TRULY invisible, the antenna has to be made from materials that are BOTH conductive and transparent; for example, CHASM's AgeNT TCF materials. They can then be "hidden in plain sight."

The other challenge facing IoT device makers, as with most consumer and commercial electronic devices is cost; both cost of manufacture and cost of operation. To achieve both performance AND cost objectives will require the use of not only next-generation materials but also next-generation manufacturing techniques.

Representative Solution

A world-renowned expert in antenna design and certified design partner was requested by a client to produce a transparent antenna on a flexible substrate that could easily be hidden in an IoT consumer device. While they had a circuit design that would satisfy their client's requirements, they did not have a viable material.

Their challenges:

  • Must be at least 90% transparent

  • Must be less than 1 ohms/square

  • Must use a flexible substrate, preferably polyester or polycarbonate

  • Must be moldable or thermoformable

  • Must be cost-effective

To solve the problem, CHASM, utilizing the partner's design, screen printed an AgeNT-1-MM printed antenna and a negative color mask on PET. 

Their resulting part:

  • Exceed the spec electrically and optically

  • Met the cost target

  • Can be thermoformed to fit the device housing