Menu
Stanford researchers develop ant-sized radio

Stanford researchers develop ant-sized radio

The device, which could cost pennies to make, is expected to help enable the Internet of things

The tiny radio-on-a-chip gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna.

The tiny radio-on-a-chip gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna.

Engineers at Stanford University have developed a tiny radio that's about as big as an ant and that's cheap and small enough that it could help realize the "Internet of things" -- the world of everyday objects that send and receive data via the Internet.

The radio is built on a piece of silicon that measures just a few millimeters on each side. Several tens of them can fit on the top of a U.S. penny and the radio itself is expected to cost only a few pennies to manufacture in mass quantities.

Part of the secret to the radio's size is its lack of a battery. Its power requirements are sufficiently frugal that it can harvest the energy it needs from nearby radio fields, such as those from a reader device when it's brought nearby.

RFID tags and contactless smartcards can get their power the same way, drawing energy from a radio source, but Stanford's radio has more processing power than those simpler devices, a university representative said. That means it could query a sensor for its data, for instance, and transmit it when required.

The device operates in the 24GHz and 60GHz bands, suitable for communications over a few tens of centimeters.

Engineers envisage a day when trillions of objects are connected via tiny radios to the Internet. Data from the devices is expected to help realize smarter and more energy-efficient homes, although quite how it will all work is yet to be figured out. Radios like the one from Stanford should help greatly expand the number of devices that can collect and share data.

The radio was demonstrated by Amin Arbabian, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and one of the developers of the device, at the recent VLSI Technology and Circuits Symposium in Hawaii.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceStanford University

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

The 2019 Reseller News Innovation Awards has kicked off with the Judges Lunch in Auckland with 70 judges in the voting panel. The awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors. Photos by Christine Wong.

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch
Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

The channel came together for the inaugural Reseller News Emerging Leaders Forum in New Zealand, created to provide a program that identifies, educates and showcases the upcoming talent of the ICT industry. Hosted as a half day event, attendees heard from industry champions as keynoters and panelists talked about future opportunities and leadership paths and joined mentoring sessions with members of the ICT industry Hall of Fame. The forum concluded with 30 Under 30 Tech Awards across areas of Sales, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Management, Technical and Human Resources. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019
Show Comments