This NASA STTR Phase I proposal is aimed at rapid prototyping of antennas beam-shaping with metamaterials and metasurfaces through additive manufacturing of a highly conductive filament - Electrifi. The proposal includes the use of the highly conductive 3D printing filament, which was developed by Dr. Shengrong Ye, the principal investigator at the SBC - Multi3D and is at least 100 times more conductive than any other conductive filament available on the market. The level of conductivity, as well as other performance metrics (e.g. operating temperature range, solderability, electroplate-ability, etc.), can be further tailored by Multi3D’s latest technology advancement. In close collaboration with Prof. Okan Yurduseven (RI), Multi3D has successfully demonstrated that prototypes of metamaterial/metasurface antennas can be printed with the conductive filament and their performance is comparable to their corresponding devices made of metal. We strongly believe the proposed innovation has proven its potential to NASA as well as many other defense and industrial sectors in terms of manufacturing of metamaterials and metasurfaces, not only overcoming the current obstacles (e.g. heavy, bulky, high power consumption, etc.) that NASA faces in the field of remote sensing application, but as a whole enabling the fast realization of high-performance 3D printed antennas that is not possible with incumbent technologies.
This NASA STTR Phase I proposal will develop a solution to current beam-shaping technologies, which heavily rely on bulky mechanical scanning techniques or complex and power hungry phase shifting methods. It is also applicable to the development of flat-panel metamaterials and metasurfaces antennas under the same subtopic. Dependent on the nature of metamaterials, it can be further used to address many other applicable areas of interest across SMD, including Earth, lunar, and planetary science, particularly in the area of remote sensing.
This proposed technology adds great value towards rapid prototyping of lightweight, conformal, flexible, and embedded electronics for the defense sectors and electronics industry. It is designed for standard additive manufacturing processes to achieve high-performance electronics and furthermore, can be tailored for high volume manufacturing to reduce cost and improve property consistency.