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Nanotube City
July 9, 2008 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Nanotube Radio. "We have constructed a fully functional, fully integrated radio receiver, orders-of-magnitude smaller than any previous radio, from a single carbon nanotube". (via)
posted by Kronos_to_Earth (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
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.

Wow. Wait until the government spies get their hands on this.

Privacy will no longer an assumption.
posted by three blind mice at 2:48 PM on July 9, 2008


"Wait until the government spies get their hands on this. Privacy will no longer [be] an assumption."

It's a radio receiver. It's not a radio transmitter. How exactly does a radio receiver invade your privacy?
posted by majick at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2008


With such a small receiver or transmitter, you could put a tracking collar on a bacterium.

Thank god. I've been so worried that they would get out of the yard and just make a break for it. This will finally give me the peace of mind I need to know that all my bacteria are safe at home.

I'm always amazed by people who can make things like this work when dealing with such small sizes.
posted by quin at 3:15 PM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The RIAA are, as we speak, working on a very tiny cease-and-desist letter.
posted by bhance at 3:38 PM on July 9, 2008 [11 favorites]


"How exactly does a radio receiver invade your privacy?"

Wait until the government implants it in your head.

Then you'll feel a little silly for asking this, won't you?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:58 PM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


here's the preprint from last year's article.

what the press releases etc don't tell you is that you need an ultrahigh (10-7 torr) vacuum system to make the field-emission work right, and additional electronics to further amplify the signal. so this isn't going to go into your clothing or anything. what's cool about this (to me) is the nanotube acting as both antenna, preamp and detector all at the same time. (and not just that, but it works under bombardment by TEM beam, which kind of boggles my mind!)

cool stuff!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 4:19 PM on July 9, 2008


It might already be implanted in your head. It's so small -- how would you know? Maybe they're already being embedded in our q-tips, and we won't find out until Congress exempts Johnson & Johnson from lawsuits!
posted by jdfalk at 4:20 PM on July 9, 2008


Anyone happen to know the potential implications for the hearing-impaired and the deaf?
posted by christopherious at 4:53 PM on July 9, 2008


what the press releases etc don't tell you is that you need an ultrahigh (10-7 torr) vacuum system to make the field-emission work right

Isn't 10^-7 torr considered High Vacuum, not Ultra High Vacuum (p<10^-9 torr)?
posted by peppito at 5:02 PM on July 9, 2008


This makes me think of Gary Larson cartoons of paramecia toting boomboxes.

Not sure if he actually drew such a cartoon, but it was his kind of thing.
posted by bad grammar at 5:44 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"This image, taken by a transmission electron microscope, shows a single carbon nanotube protruding from an electrode."

You know, I'm pretty sure it doesn't...
posted by Naberius at 6:19 PM on July 9, 2008


Sure, it's small. But it's a bitch to tune.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:21 PM on July 9, 2008


Can I still get Car Talk on it?
posted by The White Hat at 7:23 PM on July 9, 2008


But does it have gold plated connectors?
posted by ooga_booga at 7:43 PM on July 9, 2008


Isn't 10^-7 torr considered High Vacuum, not Ultra High Vacuum?

well.. okay, yes, but in both cases you are in the molecular flow regime where intermolecular forces are negligible and the mean free path is very long, in both cases you still require multiple-stage pumpdowns, baking the container to outgas it, etc. the point is, you need a lot of external hardware to make this work.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:05 PM on July 9, 2008


Anyone happen to know the potential implications for the hearing-impaired and the deaf?
Deafness, from an engineering point of view, is a signal amplification problem, or in extreme cases, a signal detector malfunction problem, but the signal in question is sound waves, not radio. It'll probably allow radios, including radio-function hearing aids, to be made smaller. It'll probably allow the hearing aid unit to be made smaller and a separate processor unit correspondingly allowed to be made larger, belt-mounted or something; but we can already basically do that with Bluetooth and similar technologies. So IMO, probably not a lot.

On the other hand, carbon nanotubes with fine piezoelectric effects might be put into auditory prosthetics. The sound wave vibrates the nanotube which stimulates a signal processor which stimulates nerves in the ear; the brain learns to adapt to this 'new' sense.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:39 PM on July 9, 2008


What they don't tell you is that you'll need two of these to receive stereo, effectively doubling the size and weight of the unit. So much for portable.
posted by davejay at 8:47 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


well.. okay, yes, but in both cases you are in the molecular flow regime where intermolecular forces are negligible and the mean free path is very long, in both cases you still require multiple-stage pumpdowns, baking the container to outgas it, etc. the point is, you need a lot of external hardware to make this work.

Yeah, both UHV and HV do require multiple stage pump downs, but HV doesn't necessarily require chamber baking to outgas to get to 10^-7 torr. I've done it a lot.

I understand the external hardware objection but this experiment is just proving that this effect can be used to send and receive radio signals, that's it, a vacuum system is useful to eliminate complications/interferences and TEM analysis requires vacuum. From here, I can easily imagine an engineering encapsulation fix to solve the problem of interference from whatever environment the nanotube would be in, which is likely a major concern when trying to get a signal from a vibrating nanorod. IMHO, I don't think this is such a big deal, discovery or engineering-wise, but it is neat and will probably lead to some interesting electronics products fairly soon, biology products maybe in a decade if ever.
posted by peppito at 10:35 PM on July 9, 2008


you are in the molecular flow regime where intermolecular forces are negligible and the mean free path is very long

Hey, I'm there right now!
posted by nax at 7:44 AM on July 10, 2008


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