Intellectual Merits: This CAREER effort investigates the interdisciplinary concept of microfluidically loaded reconfigurability within the context of RF antennas, filters, and imaging systems. These devices operate based on a new technique that relies on continuously movable microfluidic loads consisting of metal (liquid/solid) and dielectric solution volumes. Different than the recent work that relied on fluidic tubes and one-time reconfigurability, the proposed integrated microfluidic channel realizations with thin insulator walls truly allows for maximizing the parasitic loading based reconfigurability offered by the liquid volumes. The proposed effort investigates both flexible soft substrate device realizations and rigid hard substrate implementations to provide superior reconfigurability performances in terms of frequency tunability, agility, power handling, size, and speed. The project also envisions a novel microfluidic based reconfigurability approach based on employing metalized quartz pieces within the microfluidic channels. This constitutes a major deviation from existing approach of utilizing liquid metals and paves the way for low-cost non-toxic highly reconfigurable microfluidically loaded RF components. Systematic studies are planned to characterize and improve the reliability of the proposed devices under certain mechanical impact and stress conditions in order to advance the state of microfluidically reconfigured devices from simplistic conceptual laboratory prototype demonstrations to the system level integrations. Broader Impacts: There is currently a strong need for low cost, easy to use, mm and sub-mm wave imaging/radar technologies. Next generation satellite, ground-to-air, air-to-air communications and radar technologies will demand easy-to-use low-cost highly reconfigurable and self-adapting RF front-ends. The power handling capability of reconfigurable compact filters have historically been an important challenge, and the proposed effort holds promise to alleviate these concerns. The proposed reconfigurable devices and imaging systems, if successful, hold potential to transform such technologies from complicated military platforms, luxury cars, expensive devices, and specialized hospitals into general use to benefit the society. The educational plan is centered on providing learning opportunities by leveraging unique partnerships with Florida Advance Technological Education Center (FL-ATE) and NSF Florida-George Louis Strokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP). An important contribution will be the initiation of a 3D visualization centric electromagnetic theory education by utilizing USF's recently established Advanced Visualization Center (AVC). The 3D visualizations and interdisciplinary nature of the project will be used to support outreach activities with elementary and high schools.

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University of South Florida
United States
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