IEEE Region 10 Postgraduate Research Paper Contest 3rd Prize Winner

Bahare Mohamadzade, School of Engineering, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Reconfigurable antennas have attracted researchers’ interests due to their multifunctional capabilities in minimized volume requirements. Growing demand for flexible and conformal structures in modern communication systems opened a new field of developing flexible reconfigurable antennas. Flexible and conformal antennas are made of non-conventional materials which create challenges for integration of them with rigid elements such as switches, resistors, inductors, capacitors, and wires. It is a notable challenge to design a flexible reconfigurable antenna in which the mechanical stability and RF performance are not been affected by sustained bending/folding operations. 

A flexible antenna with reconfigurability capability of the radiation pattern between two broadside and monopole-like patterns at 5.2 GHz for applications in WLAN and short-range wireless sensor networks is proposed in this paper. The antenna is a planner circular patch and its reconfigurability is achieved by using electrical switches in the middle of four rectangular slots and perturbing the symmetry of the current distribution of the circular patch. The flexible PDMS and conductive fabric (nickel-copper coated ripstop from Less EMF Inc) are used as its substrate and conductor, respectively. All the antenna parts including its radiator, ground plane, and DC control parts are encapsulated by PDMS. Therefore, the structure is robust against deformation and any harsh environmental factors such as high/low temperature and humidity. The RF performance of the antenna was conducted under flat and bending positions. The measured results show the antenna is working well without any problem under radius bending of 30 mm.

(a)    Antenna’s prototype, (b) Normalized radiation patterns in two states