sibility of graphene nanoantennas that
could bind to DNA.
Burke’s team is working with Ned
Seeman at New York University and
Michael Norton at Marshall University, both of whom have done extensive
work with DNA “origami,” to explore
the possibilities of nanoscale networks for DNA sensing. If successful,
this initiative could bring graphene
nanoantennas closer to the world of
As intriguing as some of these
ideas may seem, the practical challenges remain daunting. At the most
fundamental level, nanoantennas
cannot work by themselves without
additional components such as nanotransmitters and nanoreceivers—
neither of which exist yet. Akyildiz’s
team is currently applying for patents
for graphene-based nanotransmitters
In the meantime, several other
teams around the world are pursuing
related ideas for graphene-based antennas and related devices. While the
early results are promising, the real
work is just getting under way.
“We have one idea about nano-antennas, but there are other people with
other ideas about nano-antennas,”
says Akyildiz. “It is a race.”
Akyildiz, I. F. and Jornet, J. M.
The Internet of nano-Things. IEEE Wireless
Communication Magazine, vol. 17, no. 6, pp.
58-63, December 2010.
Burke, P. J., Li, S., and Yu, Z.
Quantitative Theory of nanowire and
nanotube Antenna Performance. IEEE
Transactions on Nanotechnology, 5( 4),
Graphene for antenna applications:
opportunities and challenges from
microwaves to Thz (invited). Loughborough
Antennas & Propagation Conference
(LAPC2012), UK, 2012.
Rouhi, N. et al.
Broadband Conductivity of Graphene from
DC to Thz, Nanotechnology (IEEE-NANO),
2011 11th IEEE Conference on , vol., no.,
pp.1205,1207, 15-18 Aug. 2011doi: 10.1109/
nAnO.2011.6144485 URL: http://ieeexplore.
Alex Wright is a writer and information architect based in
© 2013 aCm 0001-0782/13/10 $15.00
tennas, in particular analyzing the possibilities of dynamic reconfiguration
across a wide range of frequencies.
Such reconfigurability could allow
graphene antennas to save power and
limit interference, as well as perform
highly targeted sensing.
“We are very excited because we can
tune the electrical antenna properties
of graphene with a DC voltage,” says
Burke. By changing the sheet resistance, his team has been able to lift
the impedance of a graphene nanoan-tenna—something not possible with
other kinds of nano-antennas.
In a recent paper, Burke’s team
proved that graphene could function
over a broad frequency range—at DC,
10GHz, 100GHz, and 100GHz– 1.5THz
in a single sweep. The team was able to
measure the graphene sheet’s impedance with a novel spectrometer built by
Elliott Brown at Wright State University
in Ohio. Recently, the team has built on
this work to tune the graphene antenna across the entire band from 100GHz
Given these physical limitations,
researchers are focusing on scenarios
that would benefit from placing nano-
antennas and transmitters in close
proximity to each other, to create what
Akyildiz describes as “an Internet of
At the most pedestrian level, such a
network could offer hope of speeding
up the “last mile” bottleneck that be-
devils so many everyday Internet con-
nections: the humble wireless router.
For all the much-heralded advances
in network speeds over the past few
years—FIOS, Terabit Internet, and
IPv4, to name a few—many of us have
yet to see the full promise of these ad-
vances, thanks to the speed limits in-
herent in the 802.11n standard that
most wireless routers follow.
A full-fledged nanonetwork could
go much further than replacing old
Wi-Fi routers, however. It could also,
in theory, harvest vibrational or electromagnetic energy from the environment to reduce power consumption.
Looking further ahead, researchers
are also starting to imagine long-range
applications of highly miniaturized
antennas. “Imagine what you could
do if you could build a radio that could
fit inside of a single cell?” asks Burke,
whose team is now exploring the pos-
LoVe of soLVinG
a love of using
is what inspired
Berkeley (Uc Berkeley), to help
develop the Unified Parallel c
(UPc) and Titanium
programming languages. “I love
languages to make computers,
with parallelism, less expensive
and easier to use,” Yelick says.
Yelick and Uc Berkeley
Electrical Engineering and
computers Sciences chair
David culler co-invented UPc
in 1996; the Titanium language
soon followed. Yelick has
demonstrated the languages’
applicability across architectures
using novel runtime and
compilation methods. She also
co-developed techniques for
self-tuning numerical libraries,
including the first self-tuned
library for sparse matrix kernels,
which automatically adapts
code to properties of the matrix
structure and machine.
accomplishment is the
recognition of her work on
Partitioned Global address
Space Languages (PGaS),
which lets users read/write data
anywhere in the system and
incorporates partitioning for
“Twenty years from now, I
hope programming languages
better hide complexity in
supercomputers, and that it
will be easier to write good
programs,” Yelick says.
meanwhile, Yelick is
collaborating with her husband
and Uc Berkeley colleague
Jim Demmel on a paper called
algorithms.” Says Yelick,
“avoiding communication is not
the right model for marriage, but
it is great for parallelism, where
communication slows you down.”
— Laura DiDio is principal at
ITIc, a Boston IT consultancy.