Engineers at Loughborough University are leading a three-year collaborative project to develop a new type of antenna that can overcome problems currently encountered by the military, search and rescue teams and the emergency services.
Traditional monopole antennas are bulky, heavy and prone to breaking. They can also attract unwanted attention during covert and security operations. This new design would be small, lightweight, flexible and weather resistant.
Prof Yiannis Vardaxoglou from Loughborough University is leading the project. ’We are aiming to produce a viable demonstrator with our prototype fabric antenna, which can be integrated into clothing. Initially, the team will be focusing on radio-communications applications, ensuring the antenna can be manufactured in a cost-effective way,’ he said.
’We hope to integrate it into uniforms, perhaps as part of an emblem or logo, and it will need to be capable of operating at megahertz frequencies,’ he added.
Nottingham Trent University will be contributing specialist knowledge of textile material properties, performance and design under the leadership of Prof Tilak Dias.
As part of the research, the two universities will be accessing the expertise of several industrial partners, including Antrum, Advanced Therapeutic Materials and Defence Marine Systems, who are interested in the commercial potential of the technology.
The £400,000 project is being funded by a grant from the Innovative Electronics Manufacturing Research Centre (IeMRC).
Over the next three years, the project team would welcome additional input from companies or individuals who are keen to explore new applications or markets for the technology, or from others currently working in this field who wish to explore collaboration opportunities.