Researchers have invented a new type of amplifier for electrical signals.
Is to produce a higher volume on a stereo, is to enhance the faint signals received by each pixel of a digital camera, modern technology is totally dependent on the amplifiers.
They are used in almost all of the sensors measuring instruments used telescopes to observe the Universe.
An amplifier is basically a circuit that increases the intensity of a weak signal.Today, this role is primarily played by transistors .
In one transistor, one short chain – the signal whether to increase – at characteristics requires a much larger current that traverses the component, resulting in the original signal amplified.
As is well known, transistor amplifiers are very good for most tasks, being able to reinforce signs of a very wide range of frequencies.
They only start to fail when the signals are very weak – as the measurement of an event of very low energy, or the capture of signals of radio waves of high frequency coming from distant galaxies, just to name two examples.
The signal comes out strong, but with little clarity – like a radio with high volume, but where the hiss and pops make it almost impossible to understand what the speaker is saying.
But there are other types of reinforcement signals, such as parametric amplifiers.
In a parametric amplifier, a strong signal, called signal pumping, injects energy in the weakest signal that you want to strengthen, amplifying it.
In their favor, they have the fact that the only noise they produce results from the inevitable shaking of atoms and waves produced by the laws of quantum mechanics.
Against, they have the characteristic to operate only in very narrow frequency bands, which restricts its practical applications.
Now, scientists at NASA and California Institute of Technology have invented a new type of amplifier is a hybrid between the transistors and parametric amplifiers.
Using superconducting materials – titanium nitride (TiN) and titanium nitride-niobium (NbTiN) – Researchers have built a kind of parametric amplifier bandwidth, ie, it operates over a wide frequency band, such as transistor amplifiers, but produces almost no noise, with the classical parametric amplifiers.
The new amplifier has numerous applications, such as measuring chemical and physical events can not be detected by current sensors.
According to the researchers, the new amplifier will redefine what is possible to measure, revolutionizing the field of metrology .
But they are connected to NASA, scientists are interested in your immediate use to study the Universe.
Cosmic signal amplifier
The new amplifier will be used to amplify signals from distant cosmic events in a wide range of frequencies, from radio waves to X-rays, emitted by distant galaxies, black holes and other celestial bodies exotic.
It will allow, for example, making a much more sensitive mapping of the cosmic background radiation , detected in the millimeter wavelengths and submillimetre – between radio waves and infrared radiation.
Instead of directly amplify signal astronomical, the parametric amplifier bandwidth can be used to amplify the electrical signal of the light detecting telescope optical, ultraviolet or X-ray facilitating detection of celestial objects far apart.