Technology

Why size matters when it comes to antennas

3:55 AM Kapil Kumar 0 Comments

Bigger has historically been better as far as antennas are involved; however, with recent developments helping to shrink aerial sizes without compromising performance, what changes are afoot in this industry?

Mobile necessities

In the first two decades after mobile phones became commercially available, antennas consistently shrunk in size each year. Many early models relied on large, protruding and often retractable antennas to receive adequate network access.

In the age of the iPhone, mobiles have been getting bigger again; however, the underlying antenna issue has remained the same. Without a large enough aerial, even a cutting-edge device will not be able to live up to expectations in terms of wireless performance.

There have even been scandals over mobile antennas, with Apple’s iPhone 4 creating some of the biggest complaints following its launch back in 2010.

A breakthrough made by researchers at Northeastern University could mean that the antennas of the future will be up to one thousand times more compact than their contemporary equivalents. This will have implications outside the mobile world.


New techniques


To reduce the size of antennas, a team led by Professor Nian Sun worked out that they should switch to a solution that operates based on acoustic resonance waves rather than electromagnetic waves. These are much smaller and yet can operate over identical frequencies deployed at the moment, which would mean existing devices might be able to use them.

While this is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the existing marketplace, such as for the antennas offered by Gloucester TV aerial installation firms such as steveunettaerials.co.uk, the increasing influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) could harness this technology to great effect.

From wearable devices to smart appliances, more products than ever before make use of wireless internet access to offer advanced functions. By shrinking antennas via this fresh approach proposed by researchers, a whole world of new possibilities opens up.

The healthcare applications of this technology are amongst the most exciting proposals in the paper published by Professor Sun on the topic; for example, devices that measure a fraction of a millimetre long could be embedded in living tissue to provide vital readings and feedback without doing damage to the host. The prospective uses sound like science fiction, but could soon become science fact.

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