Paint-On Antennas Take Off

The military would like to use blimps as eyes -- and cell towers -- in the sky. But, for the plan to really work, the antennas attached to those airships have to be light, flexible, and fit perfectly on the blimp's hull. And so far, building those antennas has been hard to do.CyberAerospacePhotos781.jpgA crew of Air Force-funded companies has a new approach: paint-on antennas that can be slopped right on the side of an airship. The goop is "a combination of polymer-based dielectrics and highly conductive paint," Aviation Week says. And during a recent flight test, a spherical blimp with "paint-on electromagnetic antennas communicated voice and data to an Iridium Global satellite."The key, apparently, is a product called Unishield, a coating which "creates an electrical field that can be specifically tuned to absorb or reflect radar frequencies." Which means that the stuff can not only be used to make paint-on antennas -- but can create magnetic fields to make planes more stealthy, too.

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