[qi:036] A group of physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have made the world’s smallest FM radio, crafted out of a single carbon nanotube that is about one ten-thousandth the diameter of a single human hair. In the nanotube radio, a single carbon nanotube works as an all-in-one antenna, tuner, amplifier and demodulator — separate components in a standard radio.
The nanotube radio is currently set to work as a receiver but can also work as a transmitter, and can be used in any number of applications — from cell phones to microscopic devices that sense the environment and relay information via radio signals. “The nanotube radio may lead to radical new applications, such as radio-controlled devices small enough to exist in a human’s bloodstream,” write the scientists in the latest issue of Nano Letters.
The radio detects signals via high frequency mechanical vibrations of the nanotube itself. It’s part of a new group of devices known as nanoelectromechanicals (NEMS.) Don’t expect the radios to show up at your neighborhood RadioShack just yet, however. The reception, for now, is still quite scratchy, though the scientists are working on fixing this problem.
More details on the nanotube radio can be found here.
Photo courtesy of Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley.