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Cambridge research creates micro-aerials for use in IoT devices

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Ben McCabe

Written on 09/04/2015 | Posted 2 years 10 months 10 days ago

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The electromagnetic properties of dielectric aerials had mystified scientists for more than 60 years The electromagnetic properties of dielectric aerials had mystified scientists for more than 60 years

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have published research showing how ultra-small antennas for use in Internet of Things applications could be created using a symmetry breaking process to generate magnetic waves.

The findings address a long-standing problem in semi-conductor design, with antenna sizes still too large to fit neatly with ever-shrinking electronic circuits. The research team, which also comprised staff from the National Physical Laboratory and Antenova, found that at a certain frequency thin piezoelectric films can become effective resonators as well as radiators, allowing them to be used as aerials.

The implications for such devices would be huge, as a commercially viable ultra-small antenna would significantly reduce the space requirements for electronic chips used in mobile phones and connected devices.

"If you want to use these materials to transmit energy, you have to break the symmetry as well as have accelerating electrons – this is the missing piece of the puzzle of electromagnetic theory," states Professor Gehan Amaratunga, who led the research. "I'm not suggesting we've come up with some grand unified theory, but these results will aid understanding of how electromagnetism and quantum mechanics cross over and join up. It opens up a whole set of possibilities to explore." 

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