Liverpool researchers to develop liquid antennas

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University of Liverpool researchers have been awarded £578k by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop liquid antennas, which the researchers claim have the potential to transform modern radio communications and radar.

“This original and transformative approach is able to meet the demands of the next generation of mobile devices and the opportunities afforded by the IoT,” said Professor Yi Huang.

Traditionally antennas are made out of materials such as copper which have good conductive properties but can be large, heavy and expensive as well as hard to reconfigure with limited bandwidth.

As the IoT and 5G become more of a reality, there is a need to develop a new type of antenna which is small, transparent and has better reconfigurability than conventional metal antennas.

It is known that water can be used as an antenna and has potential to overcome many of the problems facing traditional metal antenna. However, water turns to ice at less than 0°C.

To find a way around this problem, the team will study different liquid materials to find which could potentially be used as antennas.

The liquids will be tested for low loss, thermal and mechanical stability, their capacity to work in temperatures ranging from -30 to 60°C, their frequency range (from kHz to GHz) and whether they have radio frequency and microwave power range up to 100kW.