This article describes the features of a novel antenna reconfiguration mechanism based on the displacement of liquid metal sections.
The liquid nature of the moving parts of the antenna avoids the main disadvantage of mechanically actuated reconfigurable antennas, which is the mechanical failure of their solid parts due to material fatigue, creep, or wear. Furthermore, the displacement of liquid elements can be more effectively performed than in the case of solid materials by applying precise microfluidic techniques, such as continuous-flow pumping or electrowetting. The reconfiguration mechanism is demonstrated through the design, fabrication and measurement of a radiation pattern reconfigurable antenna. This antenna operates at 1800 MHz with 4.0 percent bandwidth and is capable of performing beam-steering over a 360 degrees range with fine tuning. The antenna is a novel circular Yagi-Uda array, where the movable parasitic director and reflector elements are implemented by liquid metal mercury (Hg). The parasitics are placed and rotated in a circular microfluidic channel around the driven element by means of a flow generated and controlled by a piezoelectric micropump. The measured results demonstrated good performance and the applicability of the microfluidic system. (Publisher abstract modified)
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Date Published: April 1, 2012