Eric Clapton was part of this year’s Rapid 2009, or at least his Grammy-winning “Layla” was. During one of the opening sessions, Boris Fritz, founder and past chairman of the Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s Nanomanufacturing Technical Group, shared some of the latest nano-innovations. Among them a nanoradio made from a single carbon nanotube one ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair (10 nm), and 1 µm long. The microscopic breakthrough serves as the radio’s antenna, tuner, amplifier, and demodulator. A taped (and somewhat scratchy) nanoradio broadcast of Clapton’s “Layla” received approving head nods and smiles from the early-morning audience. The nanoradio technololgy was invented by a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign scientists in collaboration with Northrop Grumman Electronics Systems, Linthicum, MD, where Fritz works as a senior technical specialist, created an all-nanotube transistor radio. The nanoradio technology could be used to develop radio-controlled devices for moving through the bloodstream, including drug delivery devices. It could also be implanted in the inner ear as a means for receiving information and correcting for impaired hearing.

The “tiny” technology breakthrough was one of many at this year’s Rapid 2009. For more on breakthroughs in the imaging and production of custom hip, cranial, and dental implants, and the companies behind them, watch for the June issue of Medical Design.