FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE* | October 17, 2007

Toward the world’s smallest radio: Nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 2007 — Researchers in California today (Oct. 17) report development of the world’s first working radio system that receives radio waves wirelessly and converts them to sound signals through a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes. The “carbon nanotube radio” device is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The development marks an important step in the evolution of nano-electronics and could lead to the production of the world’s smallest radio, the scientists say. Their findings appeared online today and are scheduled for publication in the Nov. 14 print edition of ACS’ Nano Letters, a monthly journal.

Peter Burke and Chris Rutherglen developed a carbon nanotube “demodulator” that is capable of translating AM radio waves into sound. In a laboratory demonstration, the researchers incorporated the detector into a complete radio system and used it to successfully transmit classical music wirelessly from an iPod to a speaker several feet away from the music player.

Although other researchers have developed nano-sized radio wave detectors in the past, the current study marks the first time that a nano-sized detector has been demonstrated in an actual working radio system, the scientists say. The study demonstrates the feasibility of making other radio components at the nanoscale in the future and may eventually lead to a “truly integrated nanoscale wireless communications system,” they say.  Such a device could have numerous industrial, commercial, medical and other applications.

— Mark T. Sampson

*The research in this press release is from a copyrighted publication, and stories must credit the journal by name or the American Chemical Society.

Researcher Contact

Peter Burke, Ph.D., is with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California-Irvine.

Video caption and credit:

A graduate student of the University of California-Irvine demonstrates the world’s first working version of a carbon nanotube radio system: View video

Copyright, American Chemical Society