Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying your best to get a cell phone signal? Or maybe you are having trouble connecting to a network? With new research into 3D printing, a stronger cellular connection may be available faster than we think.
Dr. Bhavana Deore's research—an Ideation-funded project through the New Beginnings Initiative—found that 3D-printed antennas can give Canadians better cellular connections and open the doors for this technology to be used in other areas, such as consumer goods and health care.
Dr. Deore is a Senior Research Officer in the Security and Disruptive Technologies Research Centre. She and her team have been working on new 3D-printed antennas for high-frequency 5G applications. This is important because 5G will function on a variety of antennas in small geographical areas requiring a large number of integrated devices. These requirements can be achieved by using 3D printing to make antennas at a low cost in arrays and embedded in objects.
"Our work demonstrates a concept in how to fabricate devices. In order to adopt our concepts into an actual manufacturing process to produce 3D antennas, a lot of work remains, such as optimizing, validating and standardizing the process," said Dr. Deore. "I hope that in the future, embedded 5G antennas made from our 3D printing approach will result in fast and reliable internet. New Beginnings has helped facilitate new collaborations and connections to pursue research excellence here at the NRC through new channels of support."
Dr. Deore's antenna work was published in the highly regarded peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications and 2 patents have been filed. She and her team are continuing collaborative work with Carleton University engineering professor Rony Amaya on the same 3D-antenna arrays project and other technologies, such as 3D-printed lenses, filters and frequency-selective surfaces.
"In order for this project to be a success, we needed to collaborate with someone with complementary expertise in antenna design and testing. The New Beginnings Initiative enabled this collaboration to take place, providing funding to both parties to work on it together," added Dr. Deore.
The next stage of development for Dr. Deore and her team is to tackle 1 of 2 challenges: developing extremely wideband multi-functional antennas or finding communication solutions for point-to-point field communications.
Every year, projects led by NRC researchers and teams are helping to further innovative, exploratory research and development in a wide range of areas—from health, environment and agriculture, to aerospace and astronomy. The Ideation Fund gives NRC researchers and their external collaborators the opportunity to test their potentially transformative ideas through the New Beginnings and Small Teams initiatives.