Antenna integration for wireless and sensing applications

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Wu, Terence
Tentzeris, Emmanouil M.
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As integrated circuits become smaller in size, antenna design has become the size limiting factor for RF front ends. The size reduction of an antenna is limited due to tradeoffs between its size and its performance. Thus, combining antenna designs with other system components can reutilize parts of the system and significantly reduce its overall size. The biggest challenge is in minimizing the interference between the antenna and other components so that the radiation performance is not compromised. This is especially true for antenna arrays where the radiation pattern is important. Antenna size reduction is also desired for wireless sensors where the devices need to be unnoticeable to the subjects being monitored. In addition to reducing the interference between components, the environmental effect on the antenna needs to be considered based on sensors' deployment. This dissertation focuses on solving the two challenges: 1) designing compact multi-frequency arrays that maintain directive radiation across their operating bands and 2) developing integrated antennas for sensors that are protected against hazardous environmental conditions. The first part of the dissertation addresses various multi-frequency directive antennas arrays that can be used for base stations, aerospace/satellite applications. A cognitive radio base station antenna that maintains a consistent radiation pattern across the operating frequencies is introduced. This is followed by multi-frequency phased array designs that emphasize light-weight and compactness for aerospace applications. The size and weight of the antenna element is reduced by using paper-based electronics and internal cavity structures. The second part of the dissertation addresses antenna designs for sensor systems such as wireless sensor networks and RFID-based sensors. Solar cell integrated antennas for wireless sensor nodes are introduced to overcome the mechanical weakness posed by conventional monopole designs. This can significantly improve the sturdiness of the sensor from environmental hazards. The dissertation also introduces RFID-based strain sensors as a low-cost solution to massive sensor deployments. With an antenna acting as both the sensing device as well as the communication medium, the cost of an RFID sensor is dramatically reduced. Sensors' strain sensitivities are measured and theoretically derived. Their environmental sensitivities are also investigated to calibrate them for real world applications.
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