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Engineers from the University of California created a radar sensor the size of a seed that can detect movements smaller than the width of a human hair and is both cheap and energy efficient.
Thanks to the advanced design, the sensor can detect incredibly small movements from objects on a microscopic scale. It holds promise for a wide range of potential applications, including security, biometric monitoring, and aiding individuals with visual impairments.
According to Interesting Engineering, this revolutionary device utilizes millimeter-wave radar technology, which is an electromagnetic frequency that ranges from 30 to 300 gigahertz and is located between microwaves and infrared. It is used to power high-speed communication networks (such as 5G) and is widely sought after for its ability to provide short-range sensing capabilities.
The release explains that millimeter wave radars send fast-moving electromagnetic waves to targets to analyze their movement, position, and speed from the waves bounced back. This technology has several benefits, including natural sensitivity to minute motions and the capacity to focus on tiny-scale objects.
Most current millimeter-wave sensors face problems associated with power consumption and filtering out background noise, and reportedly the scientists indeed observed a large quantity of background noise when developing this sensor. Researcher Omeed Momeni said in an official release: “It seemed really impossible because the noise levels that we were looking at were required to be so low that almost no signal source could actually handle it.”
To overcome the noise issue, the researchers altered the sensor’s design and structure, a modification that eliminated undesired noise from the sensor’s measurements. As a result, the sensor can now detect changes in a target’s position as small as 1/100th the width of a human hair and identify vibrations as fine as 1/1,000th of a human hair’s width, making it “better or on par with the world’s most accurate sensors.”