California researcher invents radio thinner than human hair

by Scott Budman

A University of California Berkeley physics professor has invented a radio thinner than a human hair.

The "Nanoradio" is made out of a single carbon nanotube, a cylinder made from carbon atoms, and is 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Despite its lack of girth, the bite size radio actually works.

"It is so small you cannot see it at all with the most powerful standard optimal microscope you have to go to atomic resolution electron microscope," said professor Alex Zettl.

Because of its size users must wear headphones to hear the sound.

Zettl and his research team successfully created the radio and tested it by sending radio waves carrying Eric Clapton's voice across their lab to a tiny receiver.

"Radio waves come and twang the nano tube and it vibrates such like a guitar string vibrates at a natural frequency," Zettl said. "This is the smallest radio anyone has made and possibly will make. I can't really imagine how you'd make a smaller one."

It may sound like science fiction but the technology behind the tiny radio could play a big part in medicine in the near future.

The nano-transmiters could one day be injected into the blood steam.

"You can transmit information to and from the radio so you can possibly tell a device to release a specific medication at a specific time or record information about what's going on in your body," Zettl said.