Breakfast and Nanotubes

Ah! There’s nothing quite like cooking stir fry for breakfast at 3:20 am. Then eating it. Then biking to get to work by 5:00 am. This happens to be a semi-delectable sweet and sour variety concocted in semi-awake-ness. As I scarf it down remember this article that my friend emailed to me. It is from MIT Technology Review

Nanotube Radio
It is an all-in-one nanotube radio. And the original paper on it can be found here. How it works is really incredible. The nanotube acts like a tuning fork and a piano string at the same time. It is like a tuning fork because it has an intrinsic frequency the it vibrates at. It is like a piano string because the amount of voltage applied to it acts to tune it like tightening a piano or guitar string. Increase the voltage and you increase the frequency that it vibrates at. Now the strange yet cool thing about this is that the tube does not act like an antenna. It is the electrons that collect at the free end of the tube that act as the antenna. They will start to induce motion in the tube in response to any electromagnetic fields. The tube naturally filters out any other frequencies since it naturally damps any motion induced by the electrons at any frequency besides what it is tuned to. There is a cathode a little over a micron away from the end of the 500 nm tube which picks up the electrons ejected during the tube’s movement. This is actually the demodulated signal — meaning that it is an audio signal and not a radio signal.

Aside from the technology involved in making this radio, it is the simplest radio ever. Right now it is really sensitive to temperatures, and the reception could be improved by operating it at lower temperatures or operating several tubes together. I also think that there are other distortions to the signal besides just the temperature interference. I think that other radio signals that operate at frequencies that are partials of the main resonant frequency of the tube and tuning would still induce enough motion to distort the signal. So it has it’s imperfections, but it will get better — just like my cooking gets better when I’m fully awake.


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