Graphene-based nano-antennas may enable cooperating smart dust swarms
By Brian Dodson
February 03, 2014
This schematic illustration of a graphene plasmonic nano-antenna shows how short wavelength EM waves are converted into long wavelength surface plasmon polaritons in a graphene layer (Image: Georgia Tech)
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Smart dust. Utility fog. Programmable matter. Grey and blue goo. Cooperating swarms of micron-sized devices (motes) offer completely new solutions and capabilities that can hardly be imagined. However, cooperation requires communication, and conventional radio or optical networking simply isn't practical at this size. Now researchers at Georgia Tech have invented a plasmonic graphene nano-antenna that can be efficiently used at millimeter radio wavelengths, taking one more step toward smart dust.
The following article sites silicon rather that graphene but I'm sharing it as an example of what smart dust can do. They can also use graphene to create smart dust. Hydrogel/graphene can be on the swabs in the tests to allow the smart dust to access the brain. It can be used in the body or outside the body. Dr James Giordano and Dr Charles Morgan have spoken of using this dust to access the brain during their talks at West Point.
Advancements in Nanotechnology-Based Smart Dust
Smart dust is a few millimeter-sized device that can operate as an individual component using a very small power supply. It consists of multiple small wireless microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) of 20 micrometers-1 millimeters in size. MEMS are also known as motes which are equipped with sensors, cameras, and other communication mechanisms. These are ultimately connected to a computer network wirelessly to process the data procured through RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology.
These minuscule devices are constructed using conventional silicon microfabrication techniques and can remain suspended in an environment similar to dust.Functions of Smart DustMotes collect various data that include light, vibrations, temperature, pressure, acceleration, humidity, sound, and stress. The data is transferred from one mote to another mote until it reaches the transmission node. The main functions of motes include:Wirelessly processing the data with a computer systemStoring the data (memory).Wirelessly communicating the data to the cloud, a base, or other MEMS
Applications of Smart Dust
Smart dust devices work without any human intervention as they are preprogrammed. Owing to their small size and weight, they can be easily positioned in narrow and difficult areas. They can collect detailed information in multiple circumstances, which have proved highly beneficial in various research and industries. A few examples are as follows:
Agriculture: Constant monitoring of a crop’s nutritional requirements, watering, fertilization, and pest control. This valuable information can help to increase the quantity and quality of the crop. It can also record soil conditions such as pH, fertility, microbial infestations, i.e., information vital for the plant's growth.
Industries: Continuous screening of essential equipment, prompting action regarding its maintenance. Assessing the exact condition of machines, their weakness, and corrosion can prevent complete system failure.
Security: Wireless monitoring of suspicious people
Controlling inventory: Tracking products from their manufacturing factories to retail shelves via transport facility (ship vessels to trucks) would ensure tight inventory control.
Medical diagnostics: Researchers at UC Berkeley have highlighted how brain functionalities can be studied with implanted neutral dust.
Transport sector: Smart dust transports perishable goods as these materials require constant monitoring. While transporting perishable goods, certain parameters such as temperature, humidity, and aeration have to be monitored continuously. Similarly, smart dust helps to monitor animals' health and control the necessary conditions such as temperature, air, and humidity for safe transport.
Military applications: It helps in accessing activities in remote or inaccessible areas. It can also determine the presence of toxic gases or harmful substances and help take necessary actions.
Travel safety: Smart dust technology can play a vital role in ensuring safe traveling. Detection of crucial factors such as pavement maintenance, or monitoring moisture condition and temperature of the road during harsh environmental conditions could help travelers.
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