The drumhead is tens of trillions times (1012) smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum.
"Sensing and communication are key to a connected world," said Philip Feng, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and corresponding author on a paper about the work published March 30 in the journal Science Advances. "In recent decades, we have been connected with highly miniaturized devices and systems, and we have been pursuing ever-shrinking sizes for those devices."
The challenge with miniaturization is also achieving a broader dynamic range of detection, for small signals, such as sound, vibration, and radio waves.
"In the end, we need transducers that can handle signals without losing or compromising information at both the 'signal ceiling' (the highest level of an undistorted signal) and the 'noise floor' (the lowest detectable level)," Feng said.
While this work was not geared toward specific devices currently on the market, researchers said, it was focused on measurements, limits and scaling which would be important for essentially all transducers.