Seawater antenna

Seawater pumped through a current probe serves as the electrolytic fluid and can be tuned for frequency, impedance, and bandwidth


Increased use of wireless communications requires additional antennas to support data transmission. In many situations there is limited space for antenna placement. For example, Navy ships normally use metallic antenna elements. These protruding structures can number up to 80 antennas per ship, taking up valuable topside real estate and easily interfering with one another if not strategically placed. With increasing antenna demand, smaller antennas are becoming more valuable to save precious surface space.

Navy researchers have developed a technology that uses the magnetic induction properties of sodium chloride (salt) in seawater to transmit and receive communication signals. The device works by pumping a stream of seawater through a current probe. The height of the seawater stream determines the antenna’s frequency. For example, UHF frequencies require a 2-foot high stream of water, while VHF and HF frequencies require 6-foot and 80-foot high streams respectively. The width of the stream determines the antenna’s bandwidth. The antenna requires a relatively small footprint and can be modified to accommodate multiple frequencies and bandwidths by stacking current probes and adding additional spray nozzles. The technology could be used on land with salt-supplemented water, replacing large unsightly antenna towers with fountains. The device could also be used on land or sea as a solar- or battery-powered emergency antenna system.

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