Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In step toward ultrasmall radio, UF team demonstrates on-chip antenna

12.05.2004


Like the signals it emits, the radio may soon disappear from sight.



University of Florida electrical engineers have installed a radio antenna less than one-tenth of an inch long on a computer chip and demonstrated that it can send and receive signals across a room. The achievement is another step in the team’s continuing efforts to build an "ultrasmall radio chip" – a transceiver, processor and battery all placed on a chip not much larger than a pinhead – and one that could one day be used for applications ranging from detecting illegal border crossing to ensuring bridge and tunnel safety.

"This project is about building very small radios that are very hard to detect, both electrically and physically," said Ken O, a UF professor of electrical and computer engineering and one of six authors of an article reported in last month’s edition of Electrical and Electronics Engineering Electron Device Letters. "Since the antenna is usually the biggest part of the radio, this is a significant step."


Tiny, cheap and disposable radios are seen as having many applications – and not for dialing in tunes from BB-sized Walkmans. Instead, the goal is to pair the radios with equally tiny, inexpensive sensors as a way of saturating large areas with sensing and communication capabilities. O said other researchers have suggested, for example, that airplanes could drop radio-motion detectors by the hundreds of thousands along borders, creating an electronic eavesdropping "fence" that would alert authorities to anyone crossing the border illegally. Each radio would be powerful enough to transmit information to the next radio, creating a single large network that could be monitored from afar.

"Instead of building fences, you could just deploy these things (radio sensors)," O said.

Another potential application: Pairing the radios with force or strain sensors implanted throughout bridges, dams or tunnels, with the goal of reporting small defects before they mushroom into disastrous problems. Equipped with microphones, the radios also could make excellent covert listening devices, because they are so tiny and their individual signals so weak that they are difficult to detect both by with the naked eye and electronically, O said.

Joe Brewer, a UF professor of electrical and computer engineering and member of the research team, said other possible applications include using the tiny radio "nodes" in place of heavy wiring in aircraft and spacecraft, which need to be as light as possible. The nodes could also be used in factories to monitor the progress of items as they progress down the line.

"We’re not at the stage where we’re really working on the details or applications – what we’re trying to do is create the basic capability," he said.

Some groups have sought to achieve such communication networks using tiny optical devices, but this approach has difficulty of aiming the information-carrying light from one optical device to another, O said. In research sponsored by the Semiconductor Research Corp. and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the UF group has made steady progress on true single chip radios.

Two years ago, the group announced it had achieved radio communication across a single fingernail-sized chip. The current research significantly extends the communication range to at least 16 feet in free space, O said.

Brewer said the chief importance of the latest research is that it changes some of the traditional "ground rules" governing ultrasmall radio design – namely that the antenna has to be a separate unit from the rest of the on-chip radio.

"The impact here is that the problem of taking radio frequency signals from an antenna through electrical connections in wires to get it to a chip has always been difficult, and this (the latest research) eliminates an interface," he said. "It makes the whole assembly much more rugged."

The next step in creating the tiny radios will be to miniaturize the crystal oscillator that tunes into the radio frequency, O said. The eventual goal is to produce radios that cost less than $1 each, O said.


Writer: Aaron Hoover, 352-392-0186, ahoover@ufl.edu
Source: Kenneth O, 352-392-6618, kko@tec.ufl.edu

Kenneth O | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Team develops fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes
18.07.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht Magic off the cuff
11.07.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>