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Image credit: Case Western Reserve University

Tiny ‘hearing’ device is 100,000 times thinner than your eardrum

It can detect signals at frequencies higher and lower than our own ears, too.
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Case Western Reserve University

Finding long-range, low-powered sensors for wearable devices is the next scientific frontier. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are working on atomically thin transducer "drumheads" that can send and receive signals at radio frequencies even greater than those we can hear with our natural ear. Better yet, the drumhead is 10,000,000,000,000 times smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum and can detect a much wider range of signal than other similar devices.

The paper, published in the March 30th issue of Science Advances, says that the super small vibrating sensor can detect signals at the highest reported dynamic range of frequencies, up to ~110dB, at radio frequencies (RF) up to over 120MHz. Human hearing is generally in the range of around 60 to 100dB in the range of 10Hz to 10kHz.

While the transducer itself isn't immediately applicable to current devices, the research will likely help inform future devices. "Sensing and communication are key to a connected world," said associate professor and co-author Philip Feng in a statement. "In recent decades, we have been connected with highly miniaturized devices and systems, and we have been pursuing ever-shrinking sizes for those devices."

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