Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a flexible antenna integrated with an epitaxial lift-off solar cell array for applications that scavenge energy and require efficient, lightweight, and low-power antennas. For example, applications such as unattended wireless nodes or autonomous small robotic platforms often need to replenish power from renewable sources such as solar energy. However, traditional UHF or VHF wireless antennas for such systems are bulky and have significant space requirements.
The integrated solar cell array and antenna developed at the University of Michigan is targeted towards use in unattended wireless nodes, autonomous platforms, and handheld consumer electronics, and overcomes the issues associated with traditional UHF or VHF antennas. The technology is implemented as a flexible UHF antenna integrated with an epitaxial lift-off thin-film III-V solar cell array, thereby allowing both communication and energy generation. The array of thin-film solar cells and the corresponding metallic traces (DC interconnects) are configured such that the solar cell array, or part thereof, can act both as an antenna and an energy generator. The resulting structures are lightweight, low-cost, highly efficient, conformal to platform geometry, and multifunctional.
- Charging for unattended wireless nodes
- Energy generation and communication for unmanned and/or autonomous vehicles and robots
- Handheld consumer electronics with wireless and self-power capabilities (cell phones, wearable electronics etc.)
- Lightweight (5-10mg/cm2)
- High efficiency
- Conformal to platform geometry
- Multifunctional (antenna integrated with solar array)