Nanotube Radio, World’s Smallest Radio

By | March 6, 2009

Nanotube Radio, World's Smallest Radio

We have constructed a fully functional, fully integrated radio receiver, orders-of-magnitude smaller than any previous radio, from a single carbon nanotube. The single nanotube serves, at once, as all major components of a radio: antenna, tuner, amplifier, and demodulator. Moreover, the antenna and tuner are implemented in a radically different manner than traditional radios, receiving signals via high frequency mechanical vibrations of the nanotube rather than through traditional electrical means. We have already used the nanotube radio to receive and play music from FM radio transmissions such as Layla by Eric Clapton (Derek and the Dominos) and the Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations. The nanotube radio’s extremely small size could enable radical new applications such as radio controlled devices small enough to exist in the human bloodstream, or simply smaller, cheaper, and more efficient wireless devices such as cellular phones.

…. When a radio wave of a specific frequency impinges on the nanotube it begins to vibrate vigorously. An electric field applied to the nanotube forces electrons to be emitted from its tip. This electrical current may be used to detect the mechanical vibrations of the nanotube, and thus listen to the radio waves.

… Layla by Eric Clapton (Derek & the Dominos) was the first song played on the nanotube radio. The entire received song may be downloaded below. Though there is a significant amount of static noise, the song is easily recognizable. All of this was accomplished with none of the external circuitry to filter or process the signal typically found in macroscopic radios.

Layla (entire song) (WAV 2.82 MB)

Courtesy Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley.

via Nanotube Radio.

If an implanted transducer like this, in someone’s jaw, for example, could turn sound into electrical energy as this seems to be doing, it seems to me you could pass the signal to an amplifier and broadcast everything a person says. Crazy. Something like that might be of interest to a few spy agencies. Do not subvocalize. 😉

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