Stealthy, Versatile, and Jam Resistant Antennas made of Gas

November 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: New Wi-Fi antenna enhances wireless coverage

Related Stories

New Wi-Fi antenna enhances wireless coverage

June 1, 2015

Researchers at Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia have succeeded in using ionised gas in a common fluorescent light tube as an antenna for a Wi-Fi Internet router.

Sunny, with a chance of nuclear bullets

July 23, 2015

In space, far above Earth's turbulent atmosphere, you might think the one thing you don't have to worry about is weather. But you would be wrong. Just ask the people charged with the safety of the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and ...

Recommended for you

Seeing quantum motion

August 28, 2015

Consider the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If you forget to wind it, you will eventually find the pendulum at rest, unmoving. However, this simple observation is only valid at the level of classical physics—the laws ...

A little light interaction leaves quantum physicists beaming

August 24, 2015

A team of physicists at the University of Toronto (U of T) have taken a step toward making the essential building block of quantum computers out of pure light. Their advance, described in a paper published this week in Nature ...

4 comments

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.