BERKELEY, CA -- Make way for the real nanopod and make room in the Guinness World Records. A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energys Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have created the first fully functional radio from a single carbon nanotube, which makes it by several orders of magnitude the smallest radio ever made.
A single carbon nanotube molecule serves simultaneously as all essential components of a radio -- antenna, tunable band-pass filter, amplifier, and demodulator, said physicist Alex Zettl, who led the invention of the nanotube radio. Using carrier waves in the commercially relevant 40-400 MHz range and both frequency and amplitude modulation (FM and AM), we were able to demonstrate successful music and voice reception.
Given that the nanotube radio essentially assembles itself and can be easily tuned to a desired frequency band after fabrication, Zettl believes that nanoradios will be relatively easy to mass-produce. Potential applications, in addition to incredibly tiny radio receivers, include a new generation of wireless communication devices and monitors. Nanotube radio technology could prove especially valuable for biological and medical applications.
The entire radio would easily fit inside a living cell, and this small size allows it to safely interact with biological systems, Zettl said. One can envision interfaces with brain or muscle functions, or radio-controlled devices moving through the bloodstream.
It is also possible that the nanotube radio could be implanted in the inner ear as an entirely new and discrete way of transmitting information, or as a radically new method of correcting impaired hearing.
Zettl holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD) and the UC Berkeley Physics Department where he is the director of the Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems. In recen
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory