Washington, Sep 20 (ANI): Early warning of a volcanic eruption may now be possible as scientists have developed radio transmitters- about the size of iPhone-that could be dropped into the depths of the earth as they can withstand temperatures of up to 900 degree Celsius.
The state-of-the-art technology being pioneered by experts at Newcastle University uses Silicon Carbide electronics that can withstand temperatures equal to the inside of a jet engine.
Measuring subtle changes in the levels of key volcanic gases such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, the wireless sensor would feed back real-time data to the surface, providing vital information about volcanic activity and any impending eruption.
And because of its unique molecular structure - which is more stable than silicon - Silicon Carbide also has a high radiation tolerance opening up possibilities for its use in the nuclear industry.
The team has developed the necessary components and are now working to integrate them into a device about the size of an iPhone that could be used in a variety of locations such as power plants, aircraft engines and even volcanoes.
Alton Horsfall, who leads the Silicon Carbide work alongside Nick Wright, explained: "At the moment we have no way of accurately monitoring the situation inside a volcano and in fact most data collection actually goes on post-eruption. With an estimated 500 million people living in the shadow of a volcano this is clearly not ideal.
"We still have some way to go but using silicon carbide technology we hope to develop a wireless communication system that could accurately collect and transmit chemical data from the very depths of a volcano."
And the device has other uses. "If someone sets off a bomb on the underground, for example, this will still sit on the wall and tell you what's going on," said Horsfall.
Nick Wright, of Newcastle University, added: "The situations we are planning to use our technology in means it's not enough for the electronics to simply withstand extremes of temperature, pressure or radiation - they have to continue operating absolutely accurately and reliably.
The findings appeared in the Engineer. (ANI)