Stretching the Boundaries of Medical Tech with Wearable Antennas

Current research on flexible electronics is paving the way for wireless sensors that can be worn on the body and collect a variety of medical data. Without a similar flexible transmitting device, these sensors would require wired connections to transmit health data. Like wearable sensors, a wearable transmitter needs to be safe for use on human skin, functional at room temperature, and able to withstand twisting, compression, and stretching. The flexibility of the transmitter, though, poses a unique challenge: When antennas are compressed or stretched, their resonance frequency (RF) changes and they transmit radio signals at wavelengths that may not match those of the antenna’s intended receivers. Researchers from Penn State University are developing devices to explore the possibilities of wearable, flexible antennas.