One-time deformable electronics: antennas for wireless communication and energy harvesting

Problem Definition:

Each day, the era of the internet of things draws nearer. Every conceivable object will be able to communicate and interact with us: a refrigerator will be able to add milk to your shopping list, your car’s tires will indicate when the pressure is running low, and your running shoes will tell you when they reach the end of their life cycle.
High level integration of smart electronics is an essential step that needs to be taken and the, nowadays omnipresent, 2 dimensional PCB boards shall be replaced by more versatile options. Thermoforming, a technique that is commonly used to give objects a specific ‘designer shape’, can be adapted to create on-time-deformable electronic circuits that take on the shape of the object into which they are integrated. In a thermoforming process a plastic sheet is first heated to a pliable forming temperature and formed to a specific shape in a mold. Figure 1 shows some examples of thermoformed products. An example of CMST's on-time deformable electronic circuit technology is presented in Figure 2. In order to avoid getting tangled up, all these electronic sensor systems will need to be able to function wirelessly. For efficient communication or wireless power transfer, this means that good, dedicated antenna design is essential.


Figure 1: Thermoformed products


Figure 2: Realisation at CMST: Thermoformed one-time deformable electronic circuit



Objectives:

The goal of this master thesis is the development, fabrication and characterization of one-time-deformable antennas.  
The work consists of research aspects (which topologies are most suited, how can they be realized, etc.), design aspects (dedicated antenna design for deformable structure), and practical aspects (fabrication at CMST). Furthermore, the influence of bending will be characterized and fabricated designs will be tested in practical situations.


Keywords:

antennas and propagation, wireless communication, integration, one-time deformable electronics, research

Location:

Ardoyen CMST + Technicum (electromagnetics group).