Researchers in the United Kingdom have completed a preliminary investigation into the use of millimeter-wave, body-worn antenna arrays to create mobile ad hoc networking for dismounted combat soldiers. The effort proved the feasibility and benefits of such a network as well as provided a platform for future study of the concept. Personnel involved in the experiments focused their work on the 60-GHz band, which offers the high amount of bandwidth necessary for troops to exchange large quantities of information on the battlefield. The short range of the communications enhances covertness by reducing the chance for enemies to exploit transmissions, and it also reduces interference.
Digital natives probably don’t remember how home TV viewers had to manually adjust “rabbit ears”—those odd-shaped dipole antennas that sat atop a TV sprouting wires and sporting any number of dials to turn in the hope of improving the picture. But when a recently uncovered use for an alloy comprising gallium and indium becomes widespread as the go-to material for antennas, the newest antennas may be able to adjust themselves without a human hand. Although only in the second stage of research, the combination of these well-known materials already has demonstrated that when bent and twisted, antennas return to their original shape; when cut with a razor, they heal.
Researchers are pursuing advances in radio antenna technology to build communication equipment into body armor and to offer more capable and efficient methods for countering roadside bombs. Virtual modeling techniques incorporating developments in materials science currently are testing and verifying prototype equipment before physical testing begins. This combination of cutting-edge research and simulation has rapidly matured these antenna technologies and prepared them for initial operational evaluations.