Wireless engineering | Plantenna Blog # 1

Wireless engineering with plants during Corona.
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Plantenna Blog # 1 | Sander Bronckers (TU/e)

Wireless engineering with plants during Corona. How Plantenna researchers moved from high tech equipment to plastic bottles.

When they were just getting to the point of doing cool experiments in the lab for their BSc thesis, the work of three students working on Plantenna was abruptly disrupted by the covid-19 crisis.

Their projects were related to electromagnetic aspects of wireless communications to and from plants. Plantenna’s future dream is that each individual plant is sending information on its health status wirelessly. By obtaining this sort of detailed information, agricultural yield can be improved.

Measurements on electromagnetic behavior are extremely sensitive, usually requiring excellent equipment, low-tolerance prototyping, and a non-reflecting ‘electromagnetically silent’ environment.  What to do when you have an extremely empirical project on such a topic, and you can no longer access the specialized laboratory? Give up on the practical part and do a theoretical study instead?

Not so for these three students from the electrical engineering department’s electromagnetics group at TU/e. A far less accurate but cheap alternative for the expensive measurement equipment was found to use at home, and the students got hands-on with plastic water bottles, salt solutions, aluminum foil, cardboard, copper tape and cacti to create prototypes and do measurements. They tested the feasibility of using antennas on plants for wireless communication, or using the plant itself as an antenna to transmit its health information. One of the preliminary outcomes of these improvised experiments is that in the future it could be feasible to use the plants themselves as antennas!

More about the Plantenna research at TU/e

The 4TU Plantenna project aims to develop innovative sensors to monitor plant stress and environmental strain. The ultimate goal of Plantenna is to reach sustainable vegetation and farming through use of these sensors. At TU/e, the primary focus of Plantenna is on the wireless communications and related topics. Within this context, Vojkan Vidojkovic and Sander Bronckers are researching the electronic and electromagnetic aspects in this, respectively.

Wireless engineering | Plantenna Blog # 1

Plantenna Blog # 1 | Sander Bronckers (TU/e)

Wireless engineering with plants during Corona. How Plantenna researchers moved from high tech equipment to plastic bottles.

When they were just getting to the point of doing cool experiments in the lab for their BSc thesis, the work of three students working on Plantenna was abruptly disrupted by the covid-19 crisis.

Their projects were related to electromagnetic aspects of wireless communications to and from plants. Plantenna’s future dream is that each individual plant is sending information on its health status wirelessly. By obtaining this sort of detailed information, agricultural yield can be improved.

Measurements on electromagnetic behavior are extremely sensitive, usually requiring excellent equipment, low-tolerance prototyping, and a non-reflecting ‘electromagnetically silent’ environment.  What to do when you have an extremely empirical project on such a topic, and you can no longer access the specialized laboratory? Give up on the practical part and do a theoretical study instead?

Not so for these three students from the electrical engineering department’s electromagnetics group at TU/e. A far less accurate but cheap alternative for the expensive measurement equipment was found to use at home, and the students got hands-on with plastic water bottles, salt solutions, aluminum foil, cardboard, copper tape and cacti to create prototypes and do measurements. They tested the feasibility of using antennas on plants for wireless communication, or using the plant itself as an antenna to transmit its health information. One of the preliminary outcomes of these improvised experiments is that in the future it could be feasible to use the plants themselves as antennas!

More about the Plantenna research at TU/e

The 4TU Plantenna project aims to develop innovative sensors to monitor plant stress and environmental strain. The ultimate goal of Plantenna is to reach sustainable vegetation and farming through use of these sensors. At TU/e, the primary focus of Plantenna is on the wireless communications and related topics. Within this context, Vojkan Vidojkovic and Sander Bronckers are researching the electronic and electromagnetic aspects in this, respectively.