2012 R&D 100 Winner
CM141_ORNL_BroadbandAntennaTraditional antenna-based approaches for electromechanical field sensing do not typically produce systems that exhibit high sensitivity over a broad frequency range. Furthermore, since the antenna size is related to the wavelength of the signal, devices are relatively large, especially at lower frequencies. With its Broadband Micromechanical Antenna, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., has built an electromagnetic antenna with a wide detection range despite its small size of less than 1 mm in length. The technology is based on charged micromechanical resonating structures that enable sensitive detection of electromagnetic waves. In contrast to traditional antennas, the dimensions of the micromechanical resonators are orders-of-magnitude smaller than the wavelength of the electromagnetic wave and allow the detection of electromagnetic waves of any wavelength from 30 Hz to 1 GHz.

The microelectromechanical (MEMS) antenna is made from metal-coated silicon or silicon-nitride cantilevers that can be charged electrically, and an optical readout system. The charged antenna converts interactions with electric fields into readily measured cantilever deformations. The optical readout system focuses a laser beam onto the cantilever tip and uses a position sensitive detector (PSD) to capture the beam reflected from the MEMS antenna. This optical scheme provides a precise and straightforward way to measure the mechanical motion of the MEMS ranging from less than a nanometer to several micrometers.

MEMS electromagnetic-sensing antenna

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Development Team

(l-r) : Daryl Briggs, Panos Datskos, Nickolay Lavrik, Slobodan Rajic


The Broadband Micromechanical Antenna Development Team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Panos Datskos, Principal Developer
Daryl Briggs
Nickolay Lavnik
Slobodan Rajics