Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Nano Radio

This is not totally new news but a recent article in Scientific American has called some attention to it as researchers have built the world's tiniest radio out of a carbon nanotube. The tiny nanotube is placed between two electrodes and combines the roles of the major electrical components in a radio, including the tuner and amplifier. It can tune in to a radio signal and play the audio through an external speaker.

The nanotube radio works differently than a conventional radio that has an antenna, tuner, amplifier, and demodulator. A single carbon nanotube can tune in to a radio signal, amplify it, and demodulate it to get the audio encoded on the carrier radio wave. The nanotube starts vibrating in tune with a radio signal if the signal is at the same frequency as the nanotube’s natural resonance frequency. This can be controlled by the electric field that is placed on the nanotube so it can be tuned to the proper frequency. The first song played was appropriately Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys.
At the AMTA conference last year I saw some research on using nanotubes as antennas for miniature radios but the initial work showed they were not able to make them work very well at RF frequencies.

See and here the nanotube radio on Technology Review here.

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