Soft nanocomposite electronics and active nanosystems

Patterned carbon nanotube and conductive polymer electronic ink on textiles, transparencies and papers by controlled micro-droplet deposition is key to soft electronics. The electronic ink printed substrates function as flexible antennas and antenna arrays in the microwave and millimeter wave frequency ranges. We will continue to develop appropriate nanotube, silver and conductive polymer based conducting ink formulations. We have also measured the electrical properties of these inks. Printing several patterns on the fabrics and plastic films was done and useful electrical measurements such as impedance matching were conducted to establish the antenna principles in the materials. Electromagnetic modeling tools will be used to calculate antenna parameters theoretically and to model the carbon nanotube-conductive polymer ink printed structure. Based on the modeling results, we have built a prototype of a polymer-based wearable microstrip antenna. Two major current issues can demonstrate the capability of these materials as sensors. One is the sensing of explosives. The second major problem is that of health monitoring. Large structures such as buildings, bridges and composite aircraft are vulnerable to small cracks, which are difficult to detect, but might become critical. There is a desire to implant or attach sensor arrays, which would provide a signal if some mechanical signature of the system changes, the equivalent of pain in the human body. Our focus to these questions would be is to embed fiber Bragg gratings into concrete or composites but these require complex and disruptive optical hook ups. Embeddable textile mechanical sensing systems would be an answer to this problem existing technologies are topics of interest. In addition we are also pursuing various approaches to build sensor devices and sensor network systems using nanostructures and their assemblies. Finally our ultimate goal is to build active, smart assemblies of nanostructures that can be controllably manipulated.

The antenna of solid patch is ready for measurements. silver epoxy was used to connect the feeding node to the antenna.