Drexel University scientists have fabricated ultrathin, 5G-ready, MXene antennas that can be spray applied onto a variety of surfaces.
Performance-wise, these antennas stand toe to toe with copper antennas found in most mobile devices on the market today – but with the benefit of being just a fraction of their thickness and weight, notes lead author and Drexel distinguished professor, Yury Gogotsi.
“This combination of communications performance with extreme thinness, flexibility and durability sets a new standard for antenna technology.”
“While copper antennas have been the best in terms of performance for quite some time, their physical limitations have prevented connected and mobile technology from making the big leaps forward that many have predicted.”
“Due to their unique set of characteristics MXene antennas could play an enabling role in the development of IoT technology.”
According to Gogotsi, the two-dimensional MXene makes an appealing material for new antennas because it can be spray applied, screen printed or inkjet-printed onto just about any substrate and remains flexible without sacrificing performance.
In order to demonstrate their innovation, Gogotsi and his fellow collaborators – professors Gary Friedman and Kapil Dandeka – created three sets of spray-coated MXene antennas, which were between 7-14 times thinner and 15-30 times lighter than a similar copper antenna.
Both lab and open environment testing were done at the three radio frequencies commonly used for telecommunication – including one in the target frequency of operation for 5G devices.
In each instance, the MXene antennas performed within 5% of copper antennas, with performance increasing with thickness of the antenna.
For instance, the best performing MXene patch antenna was 99% as efficient as a copper antenna operating at 16.4 GHz frequency in an open environment.
MXenes were also 98% as effective as their copper counterparts operating in the 5G bandwidth.
Moreover, these performance numbers did not waiver when the MXene antennas were subjected to as many as 5,000 bending cycles – a mark of durability that far surpasses other materials such as graphene and CNTs.
Image and content: Drexel University