Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Jing Wang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas M. Weller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Hoff, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Crane, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Hariharan Srikanth, Ph.D.


3-D printing, additive manufacturing (AM), antennas, ceramics, dielectrics, predictive models


A variety of high-permittivity (high-k) and low-loss ceramic-thermoplastic composite materials as fused deposition modeling (FDM) feedstock, based on cyclo-olefin polymer (COP) embedded with sintered ceramic fillers, have been developed and investigated for direct digital manufacturing (DDM) of microwave components. The composites presented in this dissertation use a high-temperature sintering process up to 1500°C to further enhance the dielectric properties of the ceramic fillers. The electromagnetic (EM) properties of these newly developed FDM composites were characterized up to the Ku-band by using the cavity perturbation technique. Several models for prediction of the effective relative dielectric permittivity of composites based on the filler loading volume fraction have been evaluated, among which Hanai-Bruggeman and Maxwell models have shown the best accuracy with less than 2% and 5% discrepancies, respectively.

The 30 vol. % COP-TiO2 FDM-ready composites with fillers sintered at 1200°C have exhibited a relative permittivity (εr) of 4.78 and a dielectric loss tangent (tan δd) lower than 0.0012 at 17 GHz. Meanwhile, the 30 vol. % COP-MgCaTiO2 composites with fillers sintered at 1200°C have exhibited a εr of 4.82 and a tan δd lower than 0.0018. The DDM approach combines FDM of the engineered EM composites and micro-dispensing for deposition of conductive traces to fabricate by 3D-printing edge-fed patch antennas operating at 17.2 GHz and 16.5 GHz. These antennas were demonstrated by employing a 25 vol. % COP-MgCaTiO2 composite FDM filament with the fillers sintered at 1100°C and a pure COP filament, which were both prepared and extruded following the process described in this dissertation. The low dielectric loss of the 25 vol. % COP-MgCaTiO2 composite material (tan δd lower than 0.0018) has been leveraged to achieve a peak realized gain of 6 dBi. Also, the high-permittivity (εr of 4.74), which corresponds to an index of refraction of 2.17, results in a patch area miniaturization of 50% when compared with an antenna designed and DPAM-printed over a Rogers RT/duroid® 5870 laminate core through micro-dispensing of CB028 silver paste. This reference antenna exhibited a measured peak realized gain of 6.27 dBi that is comparable.

Also, two low-loss FDM-ready composite materials for DDM technologies are presented and characterized at V-band mm-wave frequencies. Pure COP thermoplastic exhibits a relative permittivity εr of 2.1 and a dielectric loss tangent tan δd below 0.0011 at 69 GHz, whereas 30 vol. % COP-MgCaTiO2 composites with fillers sintered at 1200°C exhibit a εr of 4.88 and a tan δd below 0.0070 at 66 GHz. To the best of my knowledge, these EM properties (combination of high-k and low-loss) are superior to other 3D-printable microwave materials reported by the scientific microwave community and are on par with materials developed for high-performance microwave laminates by RF/microwave industry as shown in Chapter 5 and Chapter 7 and summarized in Table 5.4 and Table 7.1. Meanwhile, the linear coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) from -25°C to 100°C of the reinforced 30 vol. % COP-MgCaTiO2 composite with fillers sintered at 1200°C is 64.42 ppm/°C, which is about 20 ppm/°C lower when compared with pure ABS and 10 ppm/°C lower as compared to high-temperature polyetherimide (PEI) ULTEM™ 9085 resin from Stratasys, Ltd. The CTE at 20°C of the same composite material is 84.8 ppm/°C which is about 20 ppm/°C lower when compared with pure ABS that is widely used by the research community for 3D printed RF/microwave devices by FDM. The electromagnetic (EM) composites with tailored EM properties studied by this work have a great potential for enabling the next generation of high-performance 3D-printed RF/microwave devices and antennas operating at the Ku-band, K-band, and mm-wave frequencies.

Available for download on Friday, April 13, 2018