American researchers have made a breakthough in the development of a tiny, vibrating ‘resonator' for filtering electronic signals in mobile phones.
The resonator's vibration patterns are able to work as a band-pass filter that nullifies certain frequencies and allow others to pass.
This can improve the quality of mobile phone signals by reducing interference and ensuring that communications are transmitted with low loss.
One Purdue prototype measured about 160 microns in diameter, and is expected to be more robust, power-efficient, accurate and small than currently used technology.
The device was under development at Purdue University as part of a broader effort to improve understanding of coupled microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
MEMS are very small machines that are capable of processing data and interacting with their surroundings. They range from 20 micrometres to a millimetre in diameter.
Purdue's design builds on turn-of-the-century research into cyclically coupled filter architectures by Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs, which at the time demonstrated little benefit over more conventional, linear MEMS arrangements.
But Jeffrey Rhoads, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, said modifications to Bell Labs' designs could yield a better filter solution.
"We scoured the entirety of the feasible design space searching for better filter designs and determined that in many cases the state-of-the-art in MEMS filters, namely the conventional linear
arrangement, was sub-optimal," he told iTnews.
"In the long run, I'm a strong believer that MEMS/NEMS [nanoelectromechanical systems] technologies will still play a strong role in future communications, medical, and consumer electronics product solutions."
Currently, the resonator is in a prototyping stage, and is expected to undergo complete experimental performance validation by Q3 2009, after which researchers may investigate commercial opportunities.
Other potential uses for the technology include: chemical and biological sensing for military, public safety and medical diagnostic applications; as well as a new type of computer memory that harnesses vibration patterns to store information.