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Abstract:
A few good vibrations may lead Purdue researchers to change the way many of our vital electronic devices work in the future

Research may help improve cell phones

West Lafayette, IN | Posted on January 25th, 2010

Jeffrey Rhoads, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is conducting research on mechanical devices called resonators at the Birck Nanotechnology Center.

"Resonators are small vibrating devices that filter out certain frequencies," Rhoads said.

His research focuses on connecting these devices in one unit that works together, much like cells in the body.

Resonators only respond to certain frequencies and that makes these devices ideal for processing signals in communication devices like cell phones. They can also be used to accurately read the mass of certain objects and could be applied to data storage and memory.

Timothy Sands, director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center, said Rhoads has been provided with a unique space to conduct his experiments.

"(The Birck Center provided) a lab specifically designed with a 30,000 kilogram floating concrete slab to dampen vibrations for sensitive electromechanical measurements of micro-electromechanical systems and nano-electromechanical systems," said Sands.

According to Rhoads, it was necessary to make these resonators so small because it is the only way they could be adapted for common usage. A single device is roughly the size of a grain of sand.

"I've done a little work in the large scale, but the more space that the resonators take up, the more power they use," said Rhoads.

Rhoads was one of 13 Purdue professors to receive the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development award, which comes with a five-year grant.

Rhoads expects to begin building his devices in the third or fourth year of his research. He is also working on a modeling software for simulating the behavior of resonators along with new K-12 and college-level course materials on the new technology.

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