Monday, May 10, 2010

Using piezoelectronics to wire thousands of neural nanosensors into a single optical output

Via Medgadget, an interesting article at nanowerk of work being done at Caltech. Some extracts:
[...]
Our method for transducing analogue signals is unique, in that unlike the usual method of operating NEMS, where a phase locked loop is used to track the resonant frequency of the structure, we resonate the device at a fixed frequency and monitor the variation in amplitude of the resonance. This allows real-time transduction of electrical potentials, unlike the changes over minutes to hours that are transduced using conventional techniques.
[...]
Although NEMS are being extensively studied as nanoscale sensors in their own right, we posit that a system like ours could allow NEMS to in fact interface other types of nanoscale sensors (nanowires, carbon nanotube sensors, NEMS etc) to the external environment through a single optical output.
[...]
There are several challenges to tackle before our system can be used in a practical setting. Firstly, our system was very noisy, and required substantial averaging to extract the signals. We anticipate this problem can be solved with better engineering, primarily using stiffer materials, better fabrication techniques etc. Secondly, the engineering techniques for fabricating these devices in a multilayer structure need to be worked on.
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