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Next-Generation IoT Devices

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Another digital revolution have finally arrived in the form of 5G networks with low latency, high speeds and large capacity and is even dubbed as the “4th Industrial revolution”. 

The advent of 5G networks have speeded up help in every industry including 3D imaging, streaming services, healthcare and smart cities.In addition, a robust 5G network is required in making effective operations of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. 

One big hump in the development of next-generation IoT devices is the lack of component flexibility because of the form factor and weight issues.Today, a new technological advancement is now in operations: the printed flexible antennas

Vital component

Flexible antennas are causing a mini revolution within the electronic industry for the simple reason that at long last it has achieved the flexibility sought-after in years. What is more, it perfectly fits best for use in sensing applications and wireless communications due to its small size.

It has a lower form factor and superb flexibility that suits best in non-planar surfaces. 

Likewise, the materials that are used in the manufacture of these antennas are determined by the application requirements hurdling environmental considerations and costs.

Flexibility  

In the past years, there had been a lot of advancements in miniaturization of devices. However, the problem of flexibility had proven to be a difficult feature to surmount. 

Slowly, technological breakthroughs in engineered materials have helped pushed the advancement in flexible electronics.Now, flexible wireless device markets are growing exponentially fast. 

This could be in part due to the increased demand for implantable and wearable devices. 

The uses are varied and important: they are needed in the health industry, and in everyday wireless gadgets, including laptops and cell phones.

Uses 

These types of antennas provide a wide range of applications for industries like commercial vehicles, defense, aerospace and mobile devices, among others. The main basis is that they are all used for both long and short range communications.

With arrival of IoT (Internet of Things), every wireless network system will need a well taught combination of relevant printed sensor and printed antennas. All of this is for effective machine to machine communications.

Monitoring 

Flexible wireless device markets are growing fast, in part due to increased demand for implantable and wearable devices for health monitoring systems and everyday wireless gadgets, including laptop computers and cell phones. 

The demand for flexible printed antennas has significantly expanded in thelast few years, in particular, in the field of biomedical applications. The flexible antennas constitute the main critical component during the development of monitoring. 

At present they are of vital use in organ function regulation, brain interfaces, intracranial sensors, continuous gait analysis and drug administration systems, and other applications.

Materials

Also critical in wireless applications is the development of conductive patterns with exceptional electrical conductivity. The aim is to ensure efficiency, high gain, and bandwidth. 

Conductive material resistance to degradation because of mechanical deformation is one more desirable characteristic.

In the printing process, nanoparticle inks (silver and copper) are used frequently in constructing flexible antennas. The point is to incorporate gadgets onto the curvilinear surfaces and the constantly changing motions of the human body.  

The item must therefore be conforming to shapes and must be physically flexible, if not stretchy.

Since the bending stiffness of a thin film structure, it quantifies the resistance to the bending deformation of the material. (This roughly scales with its thickness.) The structure’s thickness is one effective way to design bendable/flexible antennas.

Substrates

The substrate is chosen as the material for its dielectric qualities. Moreover, the mechanical deformation tolerance (bending, wrapping and twisting) is also considered alongside its miniaturization potential and durability in the surrounding environment.

Flexible antennas are constructed from a variety of substrates and conductive mate.

The conductive material used (depending on the electrical conductivity) determines the antenna’s performance, including such items as radiation efficiency.

In comparison, the conductive material used (depending on its electrical conductivity) determines the antenna’s performance, such as radiation efficiency.

Qualities

The substrate materials used for the flexible antenna needs a load of low dielectric loss, low thermal expansion coefficient, low relative permittivity and high thermal conductivity. 

The constraint is driven by the requirement for higher efficiency (in a range of environments), all at the expense of increasing antenna size. The requirement for a high dielectric constant in tiny antennas is an exception to the above statement.

Types 

There are three substrate types that had been used frequently in the construction of flexible antenna. All of these are used in the construction of flexible antennas: metal foils, thin glass and polymers or plastic.

Metal foils can withstand high temperatures and allow for the deposition of inorganic compounds. However, their surface roughness and exorbitant price limit their applications. 

Polyester/thin glass

Polyester film is the most common material used for flexible antennas. This is used as the base layer on all printed antennas.

Thin glass is flexible to some degree, however, its being naturally brittle limits its applicable use. The most ideal are the polymer (plastic) or plastic materials. They are all ideal for flexible antenna applications. 

Included here are the thermoplastic non-crystalline polymers, thermoplastic semi-crystalline polymers and high-glass transition temperature.

Manufacturing

The effectiveness of a flexible antenna is controlled by the process of construction (which varies depending on the substrate). Inkjet printing, screen printing and 3D printing are frequently used to fabricate flexible wearable antennas.

Inkjet printing has developed as a viable option to more traditional production methods such as etching and milling. It is an additive manufacturing technique that transfers the design straight onto the substrate with no use of masks, resulting in minimal material waste. Based on accuracy and speed of prototyping, it is the favored production approach for polymeric substrates such as paper, polyimide and PET.

Screen printing

Screen printing is a straightforward, cost-effective, and feasible method of creating flexible electronics. It was universally used to integrate radio frequency identification (RFID) antennas by spraying conductive links or pastes onto low cost flexible substrates.

These are the substrates like textile materials and paper in a woven screen technology characterized by a range of thicknesses and thread densities.

This type of printing process makes the required pattern is made by the ink ejecting via the screen’s exposed portions on the adhered substrate. Moreover, it is an additive technique, similar to inkjet printing. 

The process is also using a subtractive method like the chemical etching, making it mor3 cost-effective and ecologically benign. Of late, with the availability commercially of a variety of printing materials and procedures, innovative 3D printing techniques for flexible antennas have gained appeal. 

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