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Columbia engineers make world’s smallest FM radio transmitter

A team of engineers at Columbia Engineering has developed a nano-mechanical system that can generate FM signals, thus creating the world’s smallest FM radio transmitter, out of graphene.

Mechanical Engineering professor James Hone and Electrical Engineering Professor Kenneth Shepard teamed up for the research, the findings of which are published in Nature Nanotechnology.

“This device is by far the smallest system that can create such FM signals,” explained Hone.

Graphene, which is a single atomic layer of carbon, is the strongest material known to man and has electrical properties superior to silicon, making it a great material for tiny electromechanical systems at the nano-scale. It can be used to create scaled-down version of the micro-electromechanical systems that are widely used in accelerometers and gyroscopes in smartphones, for example.

Hone added: “This work is significant in that it demonstrates an application of graphene that cannot be achieved using conventional materials. And it’s an important first step in advancing wireless signal processing and designing ultra-thin, efficient cell phones. Our devices are much smaller than any other sources of radio signals, and can be put on the same chip that’s used for data processing.”

Although the tiny transmitters could have applications in wireless signal processing, it’s unlikely they would end up replacing conventional radio transmitters, where size isn’t so important. Graphene transmitters could be both very compact and can be tuned over a wide range due to the material’s tremendous mechanical strength.

The full article can be found here.