International Journal of Antennas and Propagation

International Journal of Antennas and Propagation / 2018 / Article

Research Article | Open Access

Volume 2018 |Article ID 1248459 | 6 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1248459

Frequency-Reconfigurable Dipole Antenna Using Liquid-Metal Pixels

Academic Editor: Giorgio Montisci
Received18 Oct 2017
Accepted16 Jan 2018
Published14 Mar 2018

Abstract

A frequency-tunable half-wavelength dipole antenna is realized using an array of electrically actuated liquid-metal pixels. The liquid-metal pixelated dipole antenna demonstrates frequency reconfigurability by switching between resonances at 2.51 GHz, 2.12 GHz, 1.85 GHz, and 1.68 GHz.

1. Introduction

Reconfigurable antennas offer an adaptive solution in a dynamic communication environment, demonstrating the ability to change radiation pattern, polarization, and operational frequency [1, 2]. Although reconfigurability is typically achieved using PIN diodes [3], varactors [4], or MEMS switches [5], liquid metal has also recently been shown to implement reconfigurable antennas.

Recent demonstrations in liquid-metal reconfigurable antennas include monopole [6, 7], dipole [8], planar inverted F [9], Yagi-Uda [1012], patch [13, 14], and slot [15] antennas. Reconfigurability is achieved either by altering the physical dimensions of the radiating element with liquid metal or by configuring an associated liquid-metal parasitic element.

This paper achieves frequency reconfiguration using liquid metal in the form of square pixels. Pixelated antennas have been demonstrated before [1619], but this is the first paper to implement antenna pixelation using liquid metal. To turn on a pixel, a discrete amount of liquid metal is electrically actuated from a reservoir buried below the antenna. To turn off a pixel, the liquid metal retreats to the buried reservoir [20].

2. Design

2.1. Liquid-Metal Pixelated Dipole

The resonant frequency of a half-wavelength dipole antenna depends on the electrical length of the dipole arms. Using liquid-metal pixels to adjust the dipole length results in discrete changes in the antenna’s operating frequency. Figure 1 illustrates the concept. The liquid-metal pixelated antenna is based on the dimensions of a 64 mm long baseline planar copper dipole on a 0.787 mm thick Duroid 5880 substrate, shown in Figure 1(a). The liquid-metal pixelated antenna shown in Figure 1(b) replaces a section of both dipole arms with a 1 × 4 pixel array. The walls of the pixel array are made of polyimide. The top side of the array is covered in polystyrene, and the bottom side of the array is covered in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Adjacent pixels on the top side are interconnected with stainless-steel connectors embedded between the pixel walls. The pixel array connects to the copper section of the antenna through a soldered stainless-steel wire. This is necessary as gallium-based liquid metals such as Galinstan [21] used in this antenna amalgamates with copper, compromising actuation. Although Galinstan reacts with some materials, it has no known adverse effects on the human body [21]. The interface between the copper and pixel array is covered in a watertight polymer, which is not shown in Figure 1.

2.2. Liquid-Metal Pixel

A layout of a pixel is shown in Figure 2. Liquid metal moves between the top and bottom reservoirs by applying a voltage on the electrodes. Both electrodes are fed through the bottom reservoir, which is covered with a layer of PDMS. The electrodes are electrically isolated from each other on the bottom side of the pixel. A pixel is considered “on” when the liquid metal is actuated to the top-side reservoir of the antenna. The pixel is turned “off” when the liquid metal is actuated to the bottom-side reservoir.

2.3. Liquid-Metal Actuation Mechanism

Liquid metal is actuated by manipulating its surface tension using continuous electrowetting (CEW) [22]. Liquid metal is immersed in a 1 M solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH), forming an electrical double layer (EDL) at the metal-NaOH interface. A voltage acting on the EDL creates a surface tension imbalance on the liquid metal. This results in a pressure differential, actuating the liquid metal. Figure 3 demonstrates actuation in an early 4 mm × 4 mm liquid-metal pixel prototype. A 1.2 V square wave with a +1 V DC offset is applied to the electrodes to actuate the liquid metal from a reservoir buried below. The liquid metal is then actuated back to the reservoir by swapping the applied voltage polarities on the electrodes.

The pixels built for the liquid-metal pixelated dipole utilize a 3 mm × 3 mm design. The actuation voltage for this design is a 30 Hz 4 V square wave with a +1 V DC offset, which induces a larger actuation force than the 1.2 V actuation voltage used in the 4 mm × 4 mm prototype pixel. The larger force acting on a smaller body of liquid metal within the pixel significantly increases actuation speeds, being able to switch the pixel between the on and off states within 0.03 to 0.09 seconds.

3. Experimental Results

The antenna is tested by incrementally turning on one pixel on each dipole arm and then measuring the resulting resonance frequency and radiation pattern. The measured resonance frequencies agree with simulated values obtained from an ANSYS HFSS model (Table 1).


“On” pixels (per arm)1234

Measured (GHz)2.512.121.851.68
Simulated (GHz)2.432.081.881.78

As expected, lengthening the dipole by adding liquid-metal pixels on each arm decreases the resonant frequency of the antenna. As the antenna becomes longer, the incremental frequency shift decreases as the inverse square of the antenna length, as expected from the derivative of : where is the frequency, is the antenna length, and is the propagation velocity.

The frequency bandwidth and antenna efficiency of the pixelated dipole antenna are compared to those of a planar copper dipole antenna (Table 2). The performance of the pixelated dipole does not deviate significantly from that of the baseline planar copper dipole.


ParameterBandwidth (%)Efficiency (%)

Planar copper12.179.5
4 pixels17.972.6
3 pixels21.675.4
2 pixels17.572.6
1 pixel13.670.2

The measured radiation patterns are that of a typical dipole antenna, with nulls at and 180° in the E-plane and an omnidirectional pattern in the H-plane (Figure 4). The variation in peak gain between the 1- and 4-pixel-per-arm cases is approximately ±3 dB. The cross-polarization ratio is between 10 and 20 dB.

The effect of pixelating the baseline dipole was also investigated. Figure 5 compares the measured radiation pattern of the baseline planar copper dipole to that of a pixelated copper equivalent. Both antennas are tested at 2.1 GHz. This figure shows that pixelation of the dipole antenna presented in this paper has negligible effects on the radiation pattern at the resonant frequency.

4. Conclusion

This paper demonstrates the first implementation of a pixelated antenna using liquid metal. Pixels actuate liquid metal with a 4 V signal to increase the length of a dipole antenna. This allows a pixelated dipole antenna to resonate at 2.51 GHz, 2.12 GHz, 1.85 GHz, and 1.68 GHz. It has also been found that pixelation of the dipole antenna presented in this paper has negligible effects on the radiation pattern at the resonant frequency.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Acknowledgments

This work is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under Grant W31P4Q-16-1-0005.

References

  1. C. G. Christodoulou, Y. Tawk, S. A. Lane, and S. R. Erwin, “Reconfigurable antennas for wireless and space applications,” Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 100, no. 7, pp. 2250–2261, 2012. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  2. J. Costantine, Y. Tawk, S. E. Barbin, and C. G. Christodoulou, “Reconfigurable antennas: design and applications,” Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 103, no. 3, pp. 424–437, 2015. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  3. S. Nikolaou, R. Bairavasubramanian, C. Lugo et al., “Pattern and frequency reconfigurable annular slot antenna using PIN diodes,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 439–448, 2006. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  4. N. Behdad and K. Sarabandi, “A varactor-tuned dual-band slot antenna,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 401–408, 2006. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  5. E. Erdil, K. Topalli, M. Unlu, O. A. Civi, and T. Akin, “Frequency tunable microstrip patch antenna using RF MEMS technology,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 1193–1196, 2007. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  6. A. M. Morishita, C. K. Y. Kitamura, A. T. Ohta, and W. A. Shiroma, “Two-octave tunable liquid-metal monopole antenna,” Electronics Letters, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 19-20, 2014. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  7. M. Wang, M. R. Khan, C. Trlica, M. D. Dickey, and J. J. Adams, “Pump-free feedback control of a frequency reconfigurable liquid metal monopole,” in 2015 IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation & USNC/URSI National Radio Science Meeting, pp. 2223-2224, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2015. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  8. J.-H. So, J. Thelen, A. Qusba, G. J. Hayes, G. Lazzi, and M. D. Dickey, “Reversibly deformable and mechanically tunable fluidic antennas,” Advanced Functional Materials, vol. 19, no. 22, pp. 3632–3637, 2009. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  9. A. Ha and K. Kim, “Frequency tunable liquid metal planar inverted-F antenna,” Electronics Letters, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 100–102, 2016. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  10. C. K. Y. Kitamura, A. M. Morishita, T. F. Chun, W. G. Tonaki, A. T. Ohta, and W. A. Shiroma, “A liquid-metal reconfigurable Yagi-Uda monopole array,” in 2013 IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium Digest (MTT), pp. 1–3, Seattle, WA, USA, June 2013. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  11. D. Rodrigo, L. Jofre, and B. A. Cetiner, “Circular beam-steering reconfigurable antenna with liquid metal parasitics,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 1796–1802, 2012. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  12. A. M. Morishita, C. K. Y. Kitamura, A. T. Ohta, and W. A. Shiroma, “A liquid-metal monopole array with tunable frequency, gain, and beam steering,” IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters, vol. 12, pp. 1388–1391, 2013. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  13. M. R. Moorefield, R. C. Gough, A. M. Morishita, J. H. Dang, A. T. Ohta, and W. A. Shiroma, “Frequency-tunable patch antenna with liquid-metal-actuated loading slot,” Electronics Letters, vol. 52, no. 7, pp. 498–500, 2016. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  14. M. Kelley, C. Koo, H. Mcquilken et al., “Frequency reconfigurable patch antenna using liquid metal as switching mechanism,” Electronics Letters, vol. 49, no. 22, pp. 1370-1371, 2013. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  15. R. C. Gough, J. H. Dang, A. M. Morishita, A. T. Ohta, and W. A. Shiroma, “Frequency-tunable slot antenna using continuous electrowetting of liquid metal,” in 2014 IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS2014), pp. 1–3, Tampa, FL, USA, June 2014. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  16. D. Rodrigo, B. A. Cetiner, and L. Jofre, “Frequency, radiation pattern and polarization reconfigurable antenna using a parasitic pixel layer,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 62, no. 6, pp. 3422–3427, 2014. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  17. D. Rodrigo and L. Jofre, “Frequency and radiation pattern reconfigurability of a multi-size pixel antenna,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 2219–2225, 2012. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  18. C. G. Christodoulou, L. F. Feldner, V. Zachou, and D. Anagnostou, “Planar reconfigurable antennas,” in 2006 First European Conference on Antennas and Propagation, pp. 1–7, Nice, France, November 2006. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  19. A. G. Besoli and F. de Flaviis, “A multifunctional reconfigurable pixeled antenna using MEMS technology on printed circuit board,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, vol. 59, no. 12, pp. 4413–4424, 2011. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  20. K. J. Sarabia, S. S. Yamada, R. C. Gough et al., “Out-of-plane continuous electrowetting actuation of liquid metal,” Electronics Letters, vol. 53, no. 25, pp. 1635-1636, 2017. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar
  21. Geratherm Medical AG, “Galinstan safety data sheet [online],” August 2016, http://www.rgmd.com/msds/msds.pdf. View at: Google Scholar
  22. J. Lee and C.-J. Kim, “Surface-tension-driven microactuation based on continuous electrowetting,” Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 171–180, 2000. View at: Publisher Site | Google Scholar

Copyright © 2018 Kent J. Sarabia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

747 Views | 472 Downloads | 4 Citations
 PDF  Download Citation  Citation
 Download other formatsMore
 Order printed copiesOrder

We are committed to sharing findings related to COVID-19 as quickly and safely as possible. Any author submitting a COVID-19 paper should notify us at help@hindawi.com to ensure their research is fast-tracked and made available on a preprint server as soon as possible. We will be providing unlimited waivers of publication charges for accepted articles related to COVID-19.