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Nanoscale Radio

November 27, 2007

Scientists have invented the world’s smallest radio.


A molecule-sized radio. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

["Layla" as played through nano-radio]

This scratchy broadcast of "Layla" by Derek and the Dominoes came from a radio receiver that’s ten thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. The radio was made by physicist Alex Zettl and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

ALEX ZETTL (University of California, Berkeley):
You have to use very powerful, large, atomic resolution transmission electron microscopes to see the radio. It’s really about as small as you could make something.

It consists of a tiny, vibrating carbon tube that acts as a receiver, tuner, and amplifier. Zettl says the radio potentially could relay information to and from sensors in the environment – for air and water quality, for example — or even medical devices inside the human body. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.