Nav: Home

Tiny graphene radios may lead to Internet of Nano-Things

November 01, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For wireless communication, we're all stuck on the same traffic-clogged highway -- it's a section of the electromagnetic spectrum known as radio waves.

Advancements have made the highway more efficient, but bandwidth issues persist as wireless devices proliferate and the demand for data grows. The solution may be a nearby, mostly untapped area of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the terahertz band.

"For wireless communication, the terahertz band is like an express lane. But there's a problem: there are no entrance ramps," says Josep Jornet, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Jornet is the principal investigator of a three-year, $624,497 grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to help develop a wireless communication network in the terahertz band. Co-principal investigators are Jonathan Bird, PhD, professor of electrical engineering, and Erik Einarsson, PhD, assistant professor of electrical engineering, both at UB.

Their work centers on developing extremely small radios -- made of graphene and semiconducting materials -- that enable short-range, high-speed communication.

The technology could ultimately reduce the time it takes to complete complex tasks, such as migrating the files of one computer to another, from hours to seconds. Other potential applications include implantable body nanosensors that monitor sick or at-risk people, and nanosensors placed on aging bridges, in polluted waterways and other public locations to provide ultra-high-definition streaming.

These are examples of the so-called Internet of Nano-Things, a play on the more common Internet of Things, in which everyday objects are hooked up to the cloud via sensors, microprocessors and other technology.

"We'll be able to create highly accurate, detailed and timely maps of what's happening within a given system. The technology has applications in health care, agriculture, energy efficiency -- basically anything you want more data on," Jornet says.

The untapped potential of Terahertz waves


Sandwiched between radio waves (part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes AM radio, radar and smartphones) and light waves (remote controls, fiber optic cables and more), the terahertz spectrum is seldom used by comparison.

Graphene-based radios could help overcome a problem with terahertz waves: they do not retain their power density over long distances. It's an idea that Jornet began studying in 2009 as a graduate student at Georgia Tech under Ian Akyildiz, PhD, Ken Byers Chair Professor in Telecommunications.

Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon that, in addition to being incredibly strong, thin and light, has tantalizing electronic properties. For example, electrons move 50 to 500 times faster in graphene compared to silicon.

In previous studies, researchers showed that tiny antennas graphene strips 10-100 nanometers wide and one micrometer long, combined with semiconducting materials such as indium gallium arsenide -- can transmit and receive terahertz waves at wireless speeds greater than one terabit per second.

But to make these radios viable outside the laboratory, the antennas need other electronic components, such as generators and detectors that work in the same environment. This is the work that Jornet and his colleagues are focusing on.

Jornet says thousands -- perhaps millions -- of these arrayed radios working together could allow terahertz waves to travel greater distances. The nanosenors could be embedded into physical objects, such as walls and street signs, as well as chips and other electronic components, to create an Internet of Nano-Things.

"The possibilities are limitless," says Jornet.

Jornet is a member of the Signals, Communications and Networks research group at UB's electrical engineering department, while Bird and Einarsson work in the department's Solid State Electronics research group.

The work described above is an example of the department's strategy to hire faculty members with complimentary expertise that drive the convergence of basic research areas while developing new technologies and educating students.
-end-
@UBengineering

University at Buffalo

Related Graphene Articles:

How to stack graphene up to four layers
IBS research team reports a novel method to grow multi-layered, single-crystalline graphene with a selected stacking order in a wafer scale.
Graphene-Adsorbate van der Waals bonding memory inspires 'smart' graphene sensors
Electric field modulation of the graphene-adsorbate interaction induces unique van der Waals (vdW) bonding which were previously assumed to be randomized by thermal energy after the electric field is turned off.
Graphene: It is all about the toppings
The way graphene interacts with other materials depends on how these materials are brought into contact with the graphene.
Discovery of graphene switch
Researchers at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) successfully developed the special in-situ transmission electron microscope technique to measure the current-voltage curve of graphene nanoribbon (GNR) with observing the edge structure and found that the electrical conductance of narrow GNRs with a zigzag edge structure abruptly increased above the critical bias voltage, indicating that which they are expected to be applied to switching devices, which are the smallest in the world.
New 'brick' for nanotechnology: Graphene Nanomesh
Researchers at Japan advanced institute of science and technology (JAIST) successfully fabricated suspended graphene nanomesh (GNM) by using the focused helium ion beam technology.
Flatter graphene, faster electrons
Scientists from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel developed a technique to flatten corrugations in graphene layers.
Graphene Flagship publishes handbook of graphene manufacturing
The EU-funded research project Graphene Flagship has published a comprehensive guide explaining how to produce and process graphene and related materials (GRMs).
How to induce magnetism in graphene
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechani-cal, electronic and optical properties.
Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets
New research by engineers at the University of Illinois combines atomic-scale experimentation with computer modeling to determine how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene -- a question that has eluded scientists since graphene was first isolated.
How do you know it's perfect graphene?
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered an indicator that reliably demonstrates a sample's high quality, and it was one that was hiding in plain sight for decades.
More Graphene News and Graphene Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.