Applied Nanotech, Inc. (ANI), in collaboration with Armortex, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Villanova University, has tested and completed fiberglass ballistic and blast-resistant armor panels with printed electronic antennas that can send and receive radio communications and jam enemy communication signals.

The team created two wideband low-profile antennas, each capable of carrying signals at multiple frequencies. Together they provide electronic warfare, jamming and communication capabilities. The armor provides multi-channel communications and advanced active protection for vehicles, ships and buildings. It also makes military vehicles and ships less identifiable, completely eliminating the need for multiple high-profile communications antennas. The armor-incased antennas can block radio signals used to remotely trigger explosives, including improvised explosive devices.

The research, supported by a federal Small Business Technology Transfers program (STTR) sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), combines ANI’s knowledge of and experience with printed electronics with the bullet-resistant fiberglass panel products made by Armortex and the antenna design and modeling capabilities of UT Knoxville and Villanova.

For Armortex, military communications represents a new application of its line of panels. By themselves, Armortex products are widely used in courtrooms, government and corporate offices, banks, convenience stores, prisons and police stations. Rick Snelling, Vice President/General Manager of Armortex, called Applied Nanontech’s incorporation of its product line “impressive.” Researchers at UT Knoxville at Villanova agree.

“This has been a challenging yet exciting program to take a passive composite material and create a complex antenna structure that not only provides ballistic protection but also may help defeat improvised explosive devices and other threats,” says Dr. Aly Fathy, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT Knoxville. “This program is a synergistic combination of functional requirements, materials, novel design, modeling and testing,” added Dr. Ahmad Hoorfar, Professor and Director of Antenna Research Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Villanova University.