Northrop Grumman and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created the first fully-functional all-carbon nanotube transistor radio, which will affect power requirements for military sensor systems.

Researchers say this is the first time carbon nanotubes have demonstrated the ability to be used as high-speed transistors, while consuming only one-thousandth the power required by current transistor technology.

Northrop senior consulting engineer Dr John Przybysz says the implications for battery operated radio frequency electronics is “dramatic”.

“Carbon nanotube technology changes the way we look at power requirements for military sensor systems because they perform equally with other microwave transistors but use a lot less power than current semiconductor devices,” he says.

“Instead of a battery lasting two days, the same battery providing power to sensor systems built with carbon nanotube transistors may last up to two weeks.”

The research findings have been published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and are available at

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh