To support the goals of ASSIST we are developing advanced ground-breaking, cutting-edge wearable antenna technologies whose custom designs outperform the available commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) antennas as well as provide new antennas with multifunctional capabilities that currently have no COTS counterparts. The development of these flexible custom wearable e-textile antennas will enable high-performance data transfer between on-body and/or off-body nodes in a general body-area-network (BAN) system while providing a seamless integration into wearable garments, armbands, wristbands, watches, etc.
The design challenges include effective isolation of antennas from body loading effects, developing antenna designs that are robust to deformations due to body motion and location of placement, achieving efficient coupling of wearable antennas to on-body and/or off-body propagation modes, and maintaining high radiation efficiency in a small form factor. Unlike most of the state-of-the-art textile integrated antenna technology, our designs target multifunctional capabilities which include circular polarized radiation, for maintaining a robust communication link during body motion, and switchable/reconfigurable functionality, for on- and off-body communications to one or more nodes. Moreover, we have developed designs that integrate an RX/TX capability into a single textile-based antenna thereby providing an extremely compact (two antennas combined together into one) as well as flexible form-factor.
One of the main objectives of this project is to integrate flexible material systems (e.g., PDMS, silver nanowire composites, liquid metals, embroidered e-textiles, screen printing) into the antenna designs while delivering a highly efficient and robust on/off-body performance. Furthermore, our aim is to develop new methods to add multifunctional capabilities into our wearable antennas while providing far superior performance and added functionality compared to COTS and other state-of-the-art antennas. This includes the investigation of wearable antennas with advanced functionalities such as single-mode, dual-mode and switchable-mode operations.