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Drexel Engineers May Soon Replace E-Z Pass Box with Transparent Antenna

October 15, 2010

A team of Drexel electrical engineers is working to develop transparent antennas that can be customized for printing to fabrics, automobiles and military vehicles. The antennas are created from an ink-jet printer technique that coats conductive polymers onto flexible materials.

“We’re creating wireless devices for high speed, flexible communication. Imagine not having an E-Z Pass box on the windshield of your car,” said Dr. Adam Fontecchio, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean of engineering for undergraduate affairs. “You could have a transparent antenna laminated to your windshield instead. The applications are endless.”

The ink jet fabrication is environmentally safe. With this new printing method antennas can be rolled up for easy transport and made transparent at a low-cost. “The transparent printing technique will revolutionize information technology. Our goal is to make possible ubiquitous and unobtrusive high-speed wireless communications links using transceivers that are fabricated using unconventional materials on non-traditional substrates such as fabric and glass,” said Dr. Kapil Dandekar, associate professor and assistant department head of electrical and computer engineering and associate director of the A.J. Drexel Institute for Applied Communications and Information Networking (ACIN).

This project was initiated using funding from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center through the ACIN institute. The research team comprised of faculty and students has spun out a local business at the ACIN center in Camden, NJ. This company, Metantenna, LLC has been further supported by a National Science Foundation small business grant. Metantenna seeks to provide clients with ink jet fabricated antennas for specialized wireless communications applications.

“We’re looking forward to finding additional investors in the research so that we can proceed to develop a small-scale transparent-antenna distribution plant,” said Dr. Timothy Kurzweg, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and assistant dean of engineering.

For more information on the project or to schedule interviews, contact the Drexel University News Bureau at 215-895-6741 or Drexel University’s College of Engineering at 215-895-6454.

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News Media Contacts: Elizabeth Brachelli, public relations manager, Drexel University’s College of Engineering 215-895-6454, 267-357-2527 (cell) or ebrachelli@coe.drexel.edu Niki Gianakaris, director, Drexel News Bureau 215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell) or ngianakaris@drexel.edu

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