The design of effective transcutaneous systems demands the consideration of inevitable variations in tissue characteristics, which vary across body areas, among individuals, and over time. The purpose of this paper was to design and evaluate several printed antenna topologies for ultrahigh frequency (UHF) transcutaneous power transfer to implantable medical devices, and to investigate the effects of variations in tissue properties on dipole and loop topologies. Here, we show that a loop antenna topology provides the greatest achievable gain with the smallest implanted antenna, while a dipole system provides higher impedance for conjugate matching and the ability to increase gain with a larger external antenna. In comparison to the dipole system, the loop system exhibits greater sensitivity to changes in tissue structure and properties in terms of power gain, but provides higher gain when the separation is on the order of the smaller antenna dimension. The dipole system was shown to provide higher gain than the loop system at greater implant depths for the same implanted antenna area, and was less sensitive to variations in tissue properties and structure in terms of power gain at all investigated implant depths. The results show the potential of easily-fabricated, low-cost printed antenna topologies for UHF transcutaneous power, and the importance of environmental considerations in choosing the antenna topology.
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