Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.E.E.

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Arash Takshi

Co-Major Professor

Gokhan Mumcu

Keywords

Aperture-Coupled Feed, Conductive rubber, Micro-Stripline Loss Mechanism, PDMS, Stretchable Antenna, Zoflex

Abstract

The growth of flexible electronics industry has given rise to light-weight, flexible devices which have a wide range of applications such as wearable electronics, flexible sensors, conformal antennas, bio-medical applications, solar cells etc. Though several techniques exist to fabricate flexible devices, the limiting factors have been durability, cost and complexity of the approach. In this research, the focus has been on developing stretchable (flexible) conductors using a multi-layer structure of metal and conductive rubber. The stretchable conductors developed using this approach do not lose electrical connection when subjected to large strains up to 25%. Also, the conductivity of the conductive rubber has been improved by ~20 times using the multi-layer approach. Furthermore, the multi-layer approach was used to fabricate devices for RF and antenna applications. A flexible micro-stripline was fabricated using the multi-layer approach to study the performance at microwave frequencies up to 5 GHz. It was observed that using an optimal metal and conductive rubber layer structure can help to reduce the loss of the device by 58% and also the device does not get damaged due to bending. In addition to this, an aperture-coupled patch antenna at 3.1 GHz was fabricated using the multi-layer approach to demonstrate reconfigurability. Ideally, the multi-layer patch antennas can be stretched up to 25% which helps to tune the resonance frequency from 3.1 GHz to 2.5 GHz. The multi-layer patch antennas were tested up to ~10% strains to study their radiation properties. It was demonstrated that using an ideal multi-layer structure of metal and conductive rubber layer can help to improve the antenna's peak gain by 3.3 dBi compared to a conductive rubber based antenna.

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