Feb. 20, 2012
by Mark Ollig
I sometimes wonder if people think this writer has too much imagination for his own good.
With that being said, this week, yours truly found a story to share with you that even he was a bit skeptical about believing.
Can you imagine that?
Hang on campers, here we go.
Do you ever experience annoying radio reception problems or intermittent “loss of signal” with your mobile devices?
Do you wish your radios and other wireless devices had a better-working antenna system?
Yes? Well then, have I got the product for you.
Step right up ladies and gentleman and take a seat, as your information-gathering columnist brings to you, an extraordinary technological advancement.
Spray-on antennas in a can.
Yes, you read it right, my dear readers.
Those inventive folks at Chamtech Enterprises have developed and successfully tested a working nano spray-on antenna material that comes out of an aerosol spray can.
Chamtech Enterprises, located in Sandy, UT, holds several patents for this spray-on antenna formulation material technology.
In their video on Google’s “Solve for X” website, Anthony Sutera, CEO of Chamtech Enterprises, explained how someday we may be able to get rid of microwave and cellphone towers altogether.
Imagine using buildings, billboards, streets, walls, and even trees, as two-way radio, cellular, Internet broadband and Wi-Fi antennas.
“What we’re talking about is a profound way of thinking . . . a whole paradigm change on antenna technology,” said Sutera.
As with many new technologies, this one got its start solving a problem for the military.
“My vision for our company was to create a conformal antenna for special operations,” said Sutera.
This new non-wire antenna is created by spraying on a formulation material containing thousands of tiny nano-capacitors.
When the spray is lined up in the right pattern, the formulation-particular material with its embedded capacitors will quickly charge and discharge while transmitting a signal – all without creating any heat. A typical copper wire antenna would get hot.
In one test for the government, Sutera showed his audience a picture of a tree trunk that had been sprayed with two strips of the new antenna material. This material was wired to an army field radio transmitter. Within five minutes, they were able to transmit via UHF, to an airplane 14 miles overhead using the spray-on antenna material.
This, according to Sutera, was double the range they could get from a standard wire antenna on the ground.
Here is a photo of it: http://tinyurl.com/736dnqe.
The advantages of this new ground-breaking technology are mind-boggling.
In another test, a one mW (milliwatt) RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tag had its internal antenna coated with Chamtech’s spray-on antenna material.
An RFID tag typically transmits information at a maximum distance of about 5 feet.
When testing the RFID tag after Chamtech’s spray-on antenna material was applied, it was able to transmit information a surprising 700 feet.
They also tested this new spray-on antenna material on an iPhone.
Testing of the iPhone took place in an enclosed Faraday Cage that shields outside electrical interference.
First, they transmitted a simulated cellphone call and measured the dBm (power measured in decibels) using the iPhone’s standard built-in antenna.
The iPhone was re-tested after Chamtech’s spray-on antenna material was applied.
Using the new antenna material, a 20 dBm signal strength improvement was measured.
Sutera presented an iPhone with its cover off, revealing the antenna painted over with Chamtech’s spray-on antenna material.
This new antenna material transmits remarkably well through the air, but how about underwater?
In the first test, two standard military antennas were lowered 20 feet into a lake of seawater by field testers and were found to be able to transmit 100 feet at 50 MHz.
They then lowered a backboard measuring about 2-feet by-3 feet, 20 feet into the seawater. On this backboard were two Chamtech inter-connected antenna’s sprayed in a diamond pattern.
This next test proved they were able to successfully transmit one nautical mile at 50 MHz, using three watts of power through the sprayed-on antennas. Here is a picture: http://tinyurl.com/77ckgn7.
Sutera talked about how he would like to be able to put wireless connectivity anywhere.
He envisioned having “painted antennas” on the walls of buildings.
Sutera said this special spray-on nano-material, mixed in with the painted middle stripe along a highway, could be used as a method for wirelessly connecting broadband signals into your vehicle while you drive.
He also revealed they are experimenting on gathering energy out of the atmosphere using the nano-capacitor antenna material sprayed on a wall. They would then apply this energy to power sprayed-on cellular antenna sites located on the very same wall.
Here’s a picture of the antenna spray can, and a close- up of the antenna formulation material: http://tinyurl.com/6wsyucf.
Anthony Sutera’s presentation can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/7jgdecb.
I wish I had a can of this magical Spray on Antenna back in the day. Yours truly would have sprayed the outer body of his treasured ‘78 Plymouth Volare and wired it into his 40 channel CB radio.
“From yesterday to tomorrow, launching signals into the future” reads the message on Chamtech’s website at: http://www.chamtechops.com.
Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me.
I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper. - Mark Ollig