(KUTV) Big bulky antennas could be a thing of the past.
A Utah State University researcher has created a new design that you can't quite see to believe, because it's transparent.
Dr. Reyhan Baktur, an associate professor of computer and electrical engineering at USU, has been working on the design of a transparent antenna – printed on glass – for several years.
The National Science Foundation and NASA helped fund the project, which is called the Integrated Solar Panel Antenna Array for CubeSats.
The new antenna could replace the heavy and complex antennas currently used on satellites.
“For satellites, one important part of satellites is solar panels, they are solar cells,” Dr. Baktur explained. “How about if we make the antenna transparent?”
The transparent antenna is printed on glass and weighs much less than the current satellite antennas. Not only does it weigh less, but it still retains about 95 percent of the solar panel’s transparency, and it is capable of higher data transfer rates than current models.
“The next step is really we hope to fly it,” Dr. Baktur said.
Baktur and her team of researchers, USU doctoral student Salah uh Din Tariq, and master student, MuhammadEziz Tursunniyaz, are currently testing the transparent glass antenna, to get it ready for a possible flight mission.
Her team will be traveling to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in November for a project review on the technology.
“It's very exciting, it's very exciting. I think it will be very cool to see our antenna being taken up to space,” Dr. Baktur said.
But that's just the beginning of this technology.
“The printed antenna can be printed virtually anywhere,” explained Tariq, who showed off the technology in Baktur’s lab.
The antenna could be printed anywhere, including on your clothing, or on the glass windows of buildings.
“How about we print that on the window glass of skyscraper and replace your big dish antenna?” Dr. Baktur asked, discussing some of the possibilities.
And if you take that one step further, Baktur explains that glass antenna could be on almost any glass window – including the glass window in your car.
“Current car antennas are built under the engine, they're limited. If you put (the glass antenna) on the window shield, or window glass, then you have more antenna to detect collision from different angles, it's just safer,” Baktur explained.