A group of researchers in the Drexel College of Engineering have developed spray on antennas. The spray makes the installation of antennas into an effortless motion; like spraying bug fumes. According to the published research in the esteemed pages of Science Advances, the newly developed technology deploys MXene, a type of two-dimensional metallic material.

The co-author of the research, Kapil Dandekar, said that the findings are promising as the technology has the potential to revolutionize the way connected technologies are used. Dandekar is the Director of the Drexel Wireless Systems Lab and professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the college. Using the latest technology, antennas can be installed in almost every place. In short, the technology would make networking easier as it will be easy to connect even in the remote areas.

The researchers involved in the study originally belonged to the College’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. According to the researchers, the metal used in the development of spray on antenna has a property to dissolve in water turning the water blue like ink. The conductivity of the metal, which is exceptional, allows it to direct radio waves and transmit through the thinnest coating.

Increasing the thickness of the coating by 8 microns enhances the performance of the metal by 98% than the predicted, according to a statement released by Asia Sarycheva contesting for doctoral at A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute and Materials Science and Engineering Department. A thin antenna, however, formed through this metal is preferable as it will make the embedding of the antenna easier. To make an antenna using this technology one has to spray on different areas without putting in extra weight. The antenna can be sprayed either in a circular motion or in a circuit.

The latest findings will make the adoption of the Internet of Things easier, according to Dandekar. Initial testing of the spray-on antennas has shown great results. It was found that the quality of the antenna made by spraying was similar to the traditional antennas made using silver, gold, and copper. For long, scientists and researchers have been studying ways to compact the size of antennas. The MXene metal has a two-dimensional property which was the prime reason behind researchers using the metal for the development of the antennas. The two-dimensional property of MXene is similar to that of graphene, an award-winning metal for printable antennas.

Before adopting MXene, the researchers tested other metals which included carbon nanotubes and silver ink. During the tests, MXene was found 50 times better than the other metals. The MXene property to preserve radio wave transmission was 300 times better than that of silver ink antennas. A thinnest MXene antenna outperforms macro as well as micro antenna metals. In addition, it also outperforms the nanomaterial antennas that are currently in use, according to Babak Anasori from A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute. A thin antenna was measured to be thinner than a sheet of paper to around 62 nanometers or almost transparent. The spray-on antennas can be made with just spraying and are quite easy to install.