Quantum mechanics and rock music join forces

The wavefunction overdrive pedal. Shaping of Wave forms is the basis for distortion – the type of shape will determine the type of sound that results. Nanolog Audio introduces The WaveFunction Overdrive, which is designed using the latest in analog components – exclusive Nanolog Devices that operates through Quantum mechanical tunneling, a process that relies on the decay of electronic WaveFunctions into space.
Photo Credit: Nanolog Audio

All recorded music passes through various processing to get differing sounds and sound qualities.

Modern electronic processing and consumer electronics involves silicon chips, (transistors, and diodes) and guitar players say that doesn’t necessarily provide a nice sound, which is why many prefer “old school” tube amplifiers and processing when possible.

Now researchers in Canada have used molecules to replace silicon to create smoother warmer sounds, or the overdrive sound rock guitarists often seek.

Richard McCreery (PhD) is a chemistry professor and senior researcher at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) at the University of Alberta and research officer for the National Research Council of Canada


Rick McCreery, left, University of Alberta chemistry professor and senior researcher at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) and Adam Bergen, a former post-doctoral fellow and now research officer at NINT, collaborate in the lab on October 7, 2016. Their team have created the first commercial application of molecular electronics in the form of junctions in guitar pedals, helping musicians improve their sound quality and harmonics in the process © John Ulan

Professor McCreery and research colleague and guitarist/senior NINT researcher Adam Bergren were studying applications for nano technology in moving electrons through molecules as elements in circuits.

Molecular electronics has been known since the 1990’s but the duo sought a practical application, the first practical marketable application ever in fact, the result being a guitar pedal. These are used by guitarists to alter the sound created, also known as “effects”.

The researchers note that running the sound through silicon processing creates a “sterile” sound without the rich harmonics that come with running through non-linear devices like tubes which are expensive, fragile, and have a limited service life.

The nano technology using a layer only a couple of molecules in thickness between two conducting materials recreates that non-linear sound by altering the electronic signal and wave structure.

The first practical nano-product

McCreer and Bergren note that molecular electronics to date have been fragile and difficult to scale up to practical manufacturinglevels. What they have developed is a robust technology with which they’ve created an actual practical marketable technology and products.

McCreery says it’s a demonstration the molecular electronics can be made stable and reliable for applications in the real world, not just as lab curiousities.

They also note that silicon reacts only like silicon, whereas with molecular electronics modification is endless using variation of molecule layers, 1,or 2 or 4, etc, and using different molecules having differing properties and electronic characteristics.

They have created a company, Nanolog Audio  to market their products noting that there are likely many many other possibilities for the technology beyond audio where nano-tech may provide advantages of less electrical consumption and less heat generation.

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