New Discovery in Nano-Technology
Over time, advancements in technology have allowed for smaller and smaller electronic devices. A new discovery has led to the production of the smallest FM radio transmitter in the world. Researchers at Columbia, led by James Hone, a mechanical engineering professor, and Kenneth Shepard, an electrical engineering professor, used graphene to develop a nano-mechanical system that is able to create FM signals.
Graphene is the strongest known material that also has superior electrical properties surpassing those of silicon, and it is commonly incorporated in electronics today. The properties of graphene make it an excellent material for making the scaled-down versions of microelectromechanical systems called nanoelectromechanical systems, or NEMS. In the study, the research team created a voltage-controlled oscillator to generate an FM signal.
The significance of this work is that it shows the ability of graphene to be used in a way that cannot be duplicated with conventional materials. The potential for graphene in wireless signal processing allows for the creation of ultrathin cell phones in the future. The results of the study prove that devices can be made much smaller than those which currently operate through transmitting radio signals, by placing them on the same chip that performs data processing.
The goal for use of this transmitter is in wireless applications, not those devices currently used in radio transmissions. The devices that create and process radio-frequency signals have proven much harder to minimize. The graphene NEMS address the problems that occur with other materials. Although the research team says there is a long way to go before they will be able to use the graphene NEMS in applications, they are already working to improve the use of the graphene oscillators to produce less noise and make the design even more compact.