Cat-Like “Hearing” Achieved with Device Tens of Trillions Times Smaller Than Human Eardrum

Case Western Reserve University researchers have achieved cat-like “hearing” with a device 10,000,000,000,000 times smaller than human eardrum. The researchers are developing atomically thin "drumheads" able to receive and transmit signals across a radio frequency range far greater than what we can hear with the human ear. But the drumhead is tens of trillions times smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum. The advances will likely contribute to making the next generation of ultralow-power communications and sensory devices smaller and with greater detection and tuning ranges. "Sensing and communication are key to a connected world," said Philip Feng, PhD, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and corresponding author on a paper about the work published in the March 30, 2018 issue of Science Advances. The article is titled “Electrically Tunable Single- and Few-Layer Mos2 Nanoelectromechanical Systems With Broad Dynamic Range.” "In recent decades, we have been connected with highly miniaturized devices and systems, and we have been pursuing ever-shrinking sizes for those devices." The challenge with miniaturization: Also achieving a broader dynamic range of detection, for small signals, such as sound, vibration, and radio waves. "In the end, we need transducers that can handle signals without losing or compromising information at both the 'signal ceiling' (the highest level of an undistorted signal) and the 'noise floor' (the lowest detectable level)," Dr. Feng said. While this work was not geared toward specific devices currently on the market, researchers said, it was focused on measurements, limits, and scaling which would be important for essentially all transducers. Those transducers may be developed over the next decade, but for now, Dr.
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