Berkeley -- Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have built the smallest radio yet - a single carbon nanotube one ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair that requires only a battery and earphones to tune in to your favorite station.
The scientists successfully received their first FM broadcast last year - Derek & The Dominos' "Layla" and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" transmitted from across the room. In homage to last year's 100th anniversary of the first voice and music radio transmission, they also transmitted and successfully tuned in to the first music piece broadcast in 1906, "Largo" from George Frederic Handel's opera "Xerxes."
"We were just in ecstasy when this worked," said team leader Alex Zettl, UC Berkeley professor of physics. "It was fantastic."
The nanoradio, which is currently configured as a receiver but could also work as a transmitter, is 100 billion times smaller than the first commercial radios, and could be used in any number of applications - from cell phones to microscopic devices that sense the environment and relay information via radio signals, Zettl said. Because it is extremely energy efficient, it would integrate well with microelectronic circuits.
"The nanotube radio may lead to radical new applications, such as radio-controlled devices small enough to exist in a human's bloodstream," the authors wrote in a paper published online today by the journal Nano Letters. The paper will appear in the print edition of Nano Letters later this month.
Authors of the nanoradio paper are Zettl, graduate student Kenneth Jensen, and their colleagues in UC Berkeley's Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems (COINS) and in the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). COINS is a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Research Center supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Nanotubes are rolled-up sheets of interlocked carbon at
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University of California - Berkeley