It may sound like a gadget from a James Bond movie, but a group of scientists have made the world’s smallest microphone, and it’s the size of a single molecule.
A study published in Physical Review Letters details how scientists discovered that dibenzoterrylene (DBT) molecules react to sound vibration by fluorescing. Scientists collected a few DBT molecules in a enthracene crystal and then projected sound at the crystal. The sound vibrations move the electron clouds of DBT and enthracene, which causes a shift in DBT fluorescence. Scientists tracked the variation of fluorescence in a single molecule, and consequently were able to track the frequency of the sound. There you have it! The world’s smallest microphone.
The discovery is not going to be used in any spy operations though. Scientists are only able to track the variation of fluorescence in extremely cold environments because at room temperature air molecules move around too much.
Instead, scientists may be able to use DBT molecules in the physics lab. The molecules can act as a tiny sensor to look for quantum effects in very small vibrating systems. Who knows what discoveries that could lead to in the future?