Miniature antenna for improved robotic teaming in complex environments

A new, miniature, low-frequency antenna with enhanced bandwidth will enable robust networking among compact, mobile robots in complex environments. In a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory and the University of Michigan, researchers developed a novel design approach that improves upon limitations of conventional antennas operating at low frequencies — demonstrating smaller antennas that maintain performance.

Active matching network consisting of a cross-coupled transistor pair
and the designed antenna impedance model 𝑍’_𝑀(𝜔) Source

Impedance matching is a key aspect of antenna design, ensuring that the radio transmits power through the antenna with minimal reflections while in transmit mode — and that when the antenna is in receive mode, it captures power to efficiently couple to the radio over all frequencies within the operational bandwidth.

“Conventional impedance matching techniques with passive components — such as resistors, inductors and capacitors — have a fundamental limit, known as the Chu-Wheeler limit, which defines a bound for the maximum achievable bandwidth-efficiency product for a given antenna size,” said Army researcher Dr. Fikadu Dagefu. “In general, low-frequency antennas are physically large, or their miniaturized counterparts have very limited bandwidth and efficiency, resulting in higher power requirement.”

With those challenges in mind, the researchers developed a novel approach that improves bandwidth and efficiency without increasing size or changing the topology of the antenna.

You can read more in the original paper (this version is adapted and abridged from Source U.S. Army Research Laboratory. “Miniature antenna enables robotic teaming in complex environments.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2020.).

Choi, J., Dagefu, F.T., Sadler, B.M. and Sarabandi, K., 2020. A Miniature Actively Matched Antenna for Power-Efficient and Bandwidth-Enhanced Operation at Low VHF. IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation.