Nanotube antennas boost signal reception

December 31, 2003 | Source: KurzweilAI

Antennas in the form of carbon nanotube transistors can dramatically enhance the reception of RF signals, according to a study by USC scientist Bart Kosko, a professor in the school’s Electrical Engineering Department.

The finding is based on a theory called “stochastic resonance” that claims noise, or unwanted signals, can actually improve the detection of faint electrical signals. Kosko’s graduate student, Ian Lee, generated a sequence of faint electrical signals ranging from weak to strong. In combination with noise, the faint signals were then exposed to devices with and without carbon nanotubes. The signals were significantly enhanced in the container with the nanotubes compared to those without nanotubes.

Kosko says they show promise for improving “spread spectrum” technology, processing image pixel data, and speeding up Internet connections, the researcher says. He believes the tubes have the potential to act as artificial nerve cells, which could help enhance sensation and movement to damaged nerves and limbs. They could also be used as electrical components in artificial limbs.

The study appears in the December issue of Nano Letters, a monthly peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society.