Split-ring antennas made from optically transparent, electrically conductive films have been invented for applications in which there are requirements for compact antennas capable of operation over much or all of the frequency band from 1 to 10 GHz. Primary examples of such applications include wireless local-area networks and industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) applications. These antennas can be conveniently located on such surfaces as those of automobile windows and display screens of diverse hand-held electronic units. They are fabricated by conventional printed-circuit techniques and can easily be integrated with solid-state amplifier circuits to enhance gain.

The structure of an antenna of this type includes an antenna/feed layer supported on the top or outer face of a dielectric (e.g., glass) and, optionally, a ground layer on the bottom or inner face of the substrate. The ring can be in the form of either a conductive strip or a slot in the antenna/feed layer. The ring can be of rectangular, square, circular, elliptical, or other suitable shape and can be excited by means of a microstrip, slot line, or coplanar waveguide. For example, the antenna shown in the figure features a square conductive-strip split ring with a microstrip feed.

This Square Split-Ring Antenna operates with a voltage standing-wave ratio of 2 or less over the entire ISM frequency band.
In general, an antenna fed at its external boundary in the manner of this invention presents very high impedance, thereby creating an impedance-matching problem. Splitting the ring — that is, cutting a notch through the ring — offers a solution to the problem in that the notch fixes the location of maximum electric field, which location is directly related to the impedance. Thus, an excellent impedance match can be achieved through proper choice of the location of the notch.

In geometric layout, such a ring antenna structure is typically between 1⁄4 and 1⁄3 the size of a patch antenna capable of operating in the same frequency range. This miniaturization of the antenna is desirable, not only because it contributes to overall miniaturization of equipment, but also because minimization of the extent of the optically transparent, electrically conductive film helps to minimize the electrical loss associated with the surface resistance (≈5 ohms per square) of the transparent, electrically conductive film material.

Incidentally, even at ≈5 ohms per square, this surface resistance is significantly less than that of indium tin oxide film (typically > 25 ohms per square), which, heretofore has been the transparent, electrically conductive film material of choice. At the time of writing this article, information on the composition of the lower-resistance film used in the antennas of this invention was not available.

This work was done by Richard Q. Lee and Rainee N. Simons of Glenn Research Center. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free online at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Electronics/Computers category.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-17925-1.