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June 03, 2008
OKAY, IT'S MICROMACHINES, NOT NANOTECHNOLOGY, but it's still cool:
Waltzing microbots are all the rage at Duke University.
Researchers there today said they made microrobots shaped something like a spatula but with dimensions measuring just microns, or millionths of a meter pirouette to the music of a Strauss waltz on a dance floor just 1 millimeter across. In another sequence, the devices pivot in a precise fashion whenever their boom-like steering arms are drawn down to the surface by an electric charge. This response resembles the way dirt bikers turn by extending a boot heel, researchers said. The researchers said they have also been able to get five of the devices to group-maneuver in cooperation under the same control system.
Known as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) microrobots, the devices are of suitable scale for Lilliputian tasks such as moving around the interiors of laboratories-on-a-chip.
As I say, cool.