Shape-Changing Metal Antenna

Researchers at Utah and North Carolina have created a controllable metal antenna that can change its shape, and thus the frequency at which it resonates, on demand.


(Shape-Changing Metal Antenna)

To fabricate the antenna, the researchers injected a conductive, low-viscosity metal alloy (eutectic gallium indium, or EGaIn) into a 51-mm-long microchannel that is divided into four segments. Two rows of posts placed perpendicular to the channel divide the inner and outer segments of the antenna. A thin, membrane-like solid oxide skin spontaneously forms on the metal surface that mechanically stabilizes the metal at the posts, preventing metal in adjacent segments from merging. The liquid metal remains stable as long as its surface oxide is not ruptured.

At a length of 25 mm, the initial dipole antenna state, defined by the two inner segments, represents the shortest of three possible states. As the shortest antenna, it also has the highest frequency. In order to elongate the antenna, and thus decrease its frequency, the researchers applied a critical pressure on the liquid metal at one segment boundary. This critical pressure ruptures the oxide skin and squirts the metal between the posts to merge with one of the outermost metal segments. This process increases the length of the antenna and creates a second state at a lower frequency than the first state. By controlling the spacing between the posts, the researchers could control the pressure at which the oxide ruptures.

To achieve the third state the one with the longest length and lowest frequency the researchers ruptured the skin on the other side of the antenna, allowing the liquid metal in the inner segment to merge with the other outer segment. Once the skin is ruptured, the metal flows extremely quickly in a few milliseconds due to its low viscosity and the short distance it has to travel.

In his 1942 novella Waldo, Heinlein draws on the idea of broadcast power. The aircars (including the amazing broomstick speedster) use standard, rigid antennas to draw power.

As the story progresses, the deKalb antennas mysteriously fail to function. When one of them is fixed by a "hex doctor", engineers go to investigate.

"What!" put in Stevens. "You don't mean to stand there and tell me an old witch doctor fixed your deKalbs."

"Not witch doctor - hex doctor..."

The skycar looked quite ordinary. Stevens examined the deKalbs and saw some faint chalk marks on their metal sides... "Watch while I cut in reception."

Stevens waited, heard the faint hum as the circuits became activized and looked.

The antennae of the deKalbs, each a rigid pencil or metal, were bending, flexing, writhing like a cluster of worms. They were reaching out, like fingers...
(Read more about Heinlein's broadcast power receptors)

From Physorg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/31/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.

DARPA's Virtual Caves Explored By Virtual Robots
'If there's anything in here worth looking at, these pups'll find it.' - Ridley Scott, 2012.

Samsung Gets Transparent Smartphone Patent
The Transparency of Things to Come

Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...' - Philip Frances Nowlan, 1928.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Comercial Airlock 'Bishop' Now On ISS
'They put the bones and the glass can that had contained the soup into the double-doored partition or vestibule...'

Space Station Could Use Some Martian Sawgrass
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?'

ARTUu AI Copilot For USAF
'A series of short beep's and chirps issued from his speaker...'

Smellicopter Combines Live Moth Antenna With Mechanical Drone
'The organic tissue is inserted in the master tank and then sealed.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.