Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities

© 1999 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 1999 Electric/Magnetic Geographic Macrosensing

Detection of electric fields to ~100 volts/m (Section 4.7.1), the normal vertical atmospheric gradient, in theory might allow determination of aboveground altitude to ~1 m accuracy if the time between recalibrations is very brief. However, a human body (which is a good conductor), standing on level ground, acquires a slight negative surface charge and becomes "part of the ground" electrically. This distorts upward the equipotentials that usually run parallel to the ground, thoroughly corrupting an altitude measurement. Nearby lightning hits and storms are detectable, which is useful.

However, medical nanodevices with appropriate magnetometers can measure variations in magnetic field to ~0.1 microtesla using a (660 nm)3 permanent magnet sensor, in a measurement time tmeas ~ 0.6 millisec (Section 4.7.2). Geomagnetic field maps of the Earth's surface are highly nonisotropic in both latitudinal and longitudinal directions; knowledge of the field plus the absolute direction of true north (e.g., using a nanogyroscope; Section gives longitude information from the separation of the planetary magnetic and spin poles. This implies that properly equipped in vivo nanodevices can establish their latitude and longitude on Earth's surface ~1000 times every second by this means. In particular, the horizontal component of the geomagnetic field vector ranges from 0-41 microtesla from magnetic pole to magnetic equator; the independent vertical field component ranges from 0-70 microtesla. Thus a 0.1-microtesla sensor should resolve each component to an accuracy of ~11 arcmin or ~20 km in both latitude or longitude. Terrestrial surface magnetic anomalies (e.g., iron deposits) produce local variations of 0.03-30 microtesla and are thus detectable. Additional complications to these measurements include artificial magnetic field sources, the 0.01-0.1 microtesla solar daily variation, occasional magnetic storms producing erratic geomagnetic fluctuations of 0.01-5 microtesla, sudden-commencement ionospheric electrojets up to 0.3 microtesla, and various long-term secular variations in the geomagnetic field.

Radio, television, and direct broadcast satellite signals probably are not detectable by individual nanodevices (Section 7.2.3), but such detection may be indirectly achieved in vivo using nanorobot-accessible dedicated macroscale antennas implanted in the body (Section 7.3.4).


Last updated on 17 February 2003