Carbon Nanotube Yarn Cellphone and Wireless Antennas

University of Cincinnati researchers have taken 25-micron carbon nanotube thread and created a dipole antenna using double-sided transparent tape and silver paste. They were immediately successful in transmitting radio signals. “It transmitted almost as well as the copper did, but at about one ten-thousandth of the weight,” says. They transmitted both AM and FM in the lab, broadcasting a local NPR station. They also replaced a cellphone antenna and got superior reception. They also used it to transmit video from a wireless webcam.

“Carbon thread that is a fraction of the weight of current copper conductors and antennas could directly apply and would be significant to aerospace activities — commercial, military and space,” he adds. “On any aircraft, there are about several hundred pounds of copper as cables and wiring.”

Schulz explains that the carbon nanotube threads work well as an antenna because of something called the “skin effect.”

“The electrons transfer well because they want to go to the surface,” he says. “Instead of traveling through a bulk mass, they are traveling across a skin.”