Saturday, February 16, 2008

Carbon Nanotube Radio Created

Northrop Grumman and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created the first fully-functional all-carbon nanotube transistor radio, which will affect power requirements for military sensor systems.

Researchers say this is the first time carbon nanotubes have demonstrated the ability to be used as high-speed transistors, while consuming only one-thousandth the power required by current transistor technology.

Northrop senior consulting engineer Dr John Przybysz says the implications for battery operated radio frequency electronics is "dramatic".

"Carbon nanotube technology changes the way we look at power requirements for military sensor systems because they perform equally with other microwave transistors but use a lot less power than current semiconductor devices," he says.

"Instead of a battery lasting two days, the same battery providing power to sensor systems built with carbon nanotube transistors may last up to two weeks."

The radios were based on a heterodyne receiver design consisting of four capacitively coupled stages: an active resonant antenna, two radio-frequency amplifiers, and an audio amplifier, all based on nanotube devices. Headphones plugged directly into the output of a nanotube transistor. In all, seven nanotube transistors were incorporated into the design of each radio. In one test, the researchers tuned one of the nanotube-transistor radios to WBAL-AM (1090) in Baltimore, to pick up a traffic report.

“We were not trying to make the world’s tiniest radios,” Rogers said. “The nanotube radios are a demonstration, an important milestone toward building the technology into a form that ultimately would be commercially competitive with entrenched approaches.”-University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The research findings have been published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and are available at
The article's PDF is here.

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