Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a liquid metal antenna, which could go a long way to making traditional pump driven antennas unnecessary.

North Carolina State University researchers are developing a liquid metal antenna and they believe that it will be twice as powerful as conventional antennas. The researchers believe this because traditional antennas are required to utilize a pump for powering. The pump pushes the wavelengths to varying degrees and ensures that the antenna powers the device that it’s on as a whole.

The team found that as negative charges were added to the metal that it would essentially liquefy and become lucid and usable in more dramatic ways. As for making antennas better, this is something that could go a long way to revolutionizing that space. That being said, the results, which were published in the Journal of Applied Physics, went into great detail talking about just how versatile this technology could actually be when it’s applied in the tech world.

Jacob Adams, the co-author of the study pointed out that, “Using a liquid metal — such as eutectic gallium and indium–that can change its shape allows us to modify antenna properties more dramatically than is possible with a fixed conductor.” He went on say of the positive voltage that, “electrochemically deposits an oxide on the surface of the metal that lowers the surface tension, while a negative potential removes the oxide to increase the surface tension.”

Liquid-metal-tunable-antenna
Photo: Jacob Adams

In the long term though, it’s advances like this that will ultimately give wireless devices, and mobile devices that are being stressed more the ability to handle the evolving networks and requirements. Speaking on the future of antennas and the technology that’ll be required to keep up with it that, “As the number of services that a device must be capable of supporting grows, so too will the number of frequency bands over which the antenna and RF front-end must operate. This combination will create a real antenna design challenge for mobile systems because antenna size and operating bandwidth tend to be conflicting tradeoffs.”

We’re at an interesting crossroads in terms of where the technology is today, and where it is going tomorrow. With the amount of money being spent on mobile devices, and the increased number of frequencies and devices that are flooding the market – it’s impossible to know for sure how technology like antennas will handle the load. That being said, research like this pushes the entire conversation forward – and begins to address how this increased load will be handled by the technology working within it.

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