Recent advancements in printing technologies have greatly improved the fabrication efficiency of flexible and wearable electronics. Electronic textiles (E-textiles) garner particular interest because of their innate and desirable properties (i.e., conformability, breathability, fabric hand), which make them the ideal platform for creating wireless body area networks (WBANs) for wearable healthcare applications. However, current WBANs are limited in use due to a lack of flexible antennas that can provide effective wireless communication and data transfer. In this work, we detail a novel fabrication process for flexible textile-based multifunctional antennas with enhanced dielectric properties. Our fabrication process relies on direct-write printing of a dielectric ink consisting of ultraviolet (UV)-curable acrylates and urethane as well as 4 wt.% 200 nm barium titanate (BT) nanoparticles to enhance the dielectric properties of the naturally porous textile architecture. By controlling the spray-coating process parameters of BT dielectric ink on knit fabrics, the dielectric constant is enhanced from 1.43 to 1.61, while preserving the flexibility and air permeability of the fabric. The novel combination textile substrate shows great flexibility, as only 2 N is required for a 30 mm deformation. The final textile antenna is multifunctional in the sense that it is capable of operating in a full-duplex mode while presenting a relatively high gain of 9.12 dB at 2.3 GHz and a bandwidth of 79 MHz (2.260–2.339 GHz) for each port. Our proposed manufacturing process shows the potential to simplify the assembly of traditionally complex E-textile systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering