Harnessing the electrical and mechanical properties of the carbon nanotube, a team of researchers has crafted a working radio from a single fiber of that material.
Fixed between two electrodes, the vibrating tube successfully performed the four critical roles of a radio--antenna, tunable filter, amplifier and demodulator--to tune in a radio signal generated in the room and play it back through an attached speaker.
Functional across a bandwidth widely used for commercial radio, the tiny device could have applications far beyond novelty, from radio-controlled devices that could flow in the human bloodstream to highly efficient, miniscule, cell phone devices.
Developed at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems, a research team led by Alex Zettl of the University of California at Berkeley announced the findings online on Oct. 31, 2007 (http://pubs.acs.org/journals/nalefd/index.html). The findings are scheduled to be printed in Nano Letters in November.
"This breakthrough is a perfect example of how the unique behavior of matter in the nanoworld enables startling new technologies," says Bruce Kramer, a senior advisor for engineering at NSF and the officer overseeing the center's work. "The key functions of a radio, the quintessential device that heralded the electronic age, have now been radically miniaturized using the mechanical vibration of a single carbon nanotube."
The source content for the first laboratory test of the radio was "Layla," by Derek and the Dominos, followed soon after by "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys.
One of the primary goals for the center is to develop minuscule sensors that can communicate wirelessly, says Settle. "A key issue is how to integrate individual molecular-scale components together into a system that maintains the nanometer scale. The nanoradio
|Contact: Josh Chamot|
National Science Foundation