To pump out all the radio-frequency signals that let you make phone calls and consume the internet wirelessly, your phone uses small chunks of silicon to create microwaves. Science had pushed the little things as far as they could—but now a nanoscale version promises to make your phone smaller, cheaper and better-performing.
A team of UCLA scientists has developed a microwave oscillator that uses the spin of electrons, rather than the more conventional charge, to create radio-frequency waves. While that might not sound particularly impressive, it brings with it some major benefits.
First off, it means the oscillator can be 10,000-times smaller than those that are used at the moment. That is a pretty amazing leap in size, and it means that the devices will finally make their way on to integrated circuits—as their size and design is compatible with current chip manufacturing standards.
They also create much sharper frequency outputs. In turn, that means more data can be crammed into the same bandwidth from a device using such technology, and that there's less noise so they provide a cleaner voice and video signal.
Unlike many of these kinds of technological leaps, there's no obvious barrier which could get in the way of the science being translated directly into practice. But you can certainly expect somewhat of a wait before it makes its way off the researcher's bench and into your phone. More here.