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 Producing electricity during flight
20.09.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene
19.09.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>