Stealthy, Versatile, and Jam Resistant Antennas made of Gas

Nov 12, 2007
Stealthy, Versatile, and Jam Resistant Antennas made of Gas
This prototype plasma antenna is stealthy, versatile, and jam-resistant. Credit: T. R. Anderson and I. Alexeff

A new antenna made of plasma (a gas heated to the point that the electrons are ripped free of atoms and molecules) works just like conventional metal antennas, except that it vanishes when you turn it off.

That's important on the battlefield and in other applications where antennas need to be kept out of sight. In addition, unlike metal antennas, the electrical characteristics of a plasma antenna can be rapidly adjusted to counteract signal jamming attempts.

Plasma antennas behave much like solid metal antennas because electrons flow freely in the hot gas, just as they do in metal conductors. But plasmas only exist when the gasses they're made of are very hot. The moment the energy source heating a plasma antenna is shut off, the plasma turns back into a plain old (non conductive) gas. As far as radio signals and antenna detectors go, the antenna effectively disappears when the plasma cools down.

The antenna design being presented at next week's APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in Orlando consists of gas-filled tubes reminiscent of neon bulbs. The physicists presenting the design propose that an array of many small plasma elements could lead to a highly versatile antenna that could be reconfigured simply by turning on or off various elements.

Source: American Physical Society

Explore further: Team invents microscopic sonic screwdriver

Related Stories

How particle accelerator maths helped me fix my Wi-Fi

Mar 25, 2015

Electromagnetic radiation – it might sound like something that you'd be better off avoiding, but electromagnetic waves of various kinds underpin our senses and how we interact with the world – from the ...

New antenna spreads good vibrations in fusion plasma

Nov 13, 2013

If you want to catch a firefly, any old glass jar will do. But when you're trying to bottle a star—the goal of fusion energy research—the bottle needs to be very special. A tokamak is one type of fusion ...

NASA spacecraft records 'Earthsong'

Oct 01, 2012

Nobody ever said anything about singing, though. A NASA spacecraft has just beamed back a beautiful song sung by our own planet.

Recommended for you

Researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound

May 28, 2015

Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) services and recently published by ...

How researchers listen for gravitational waves

May 28, 2015

A century ago, Albert Einstein postulated the existence of gravitational waves in his General Theory of Relativity. But until now, these distortions of space-time have remained stubbornly hidden from direct ...

What's fair?: New theory on income inequality

May 27, 2015

The increasing inequality in income and wealth in recent years, together with excessive pay packages of CEOs in the U.S. and abroad, is of growing concern, especially to policy makers. Income inequality was ...

Scientists one step closer to mimicking gamma-ray bursts

May 27, 2015

Using ever more energetic lasers, Lawrence Livermore researchers have produced a record high number of electron-positron pairs, opening exciting opportunities to study extreme astrophysical processes, such ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

earls
not rated yet Nov 12, 2007
Wow, that's scary, I was just pondering this idea within the past two weeks. I simply figured that denser metal antennas would be superior... But I can see how these types can have their advantages.
Graeme
not rated yet Nov 12, 2007
The idea has been around for years, and isn't the plasma more visible than the equivalent wires? Turning on and off is a good advantage though!
loboy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 12, 2007
Tesla developed a similar array in his "Teleforce proposal". The drawing is titled "New Terminal for Exceedingly High Potentials Consisting of Spherical Frame with Attachments".

Except Tesla never mentions phasing the array, which is somewhat suggested in the article. He does mention in the proposal that it is a "transmitter".
Argiod
1 / 5 (3) Nov 13, 2007
loboy, indeed, Tesla was way ahead of his times. And he was suppressed because his ideas were so radical for the times, the gov't was likely afraid of him and his inventions. After all, you can't trace ballistics on pure energy, can you? Granted, his terminology is somewhat antiquated now; but it is a simple matter to translate his terms into modern equivalents to see that we're only now beginning to catch up with his ideas.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.