Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have created a veritable army of microscopic robots that can assist in future explorations of such scales. Scientists were able to circumvent the mobility problem of small machines, since, according to Marc Miskin, leader of the study, due to the lack of necessary components that fit this size, previously developed equipment did not have the functionality.
This was possible with the production of a new type of actuator – name of the part that allows actions such as “bending legs” -, made of an extremely thin layer of platinum. Each robot uses four of them, connected to solar cells on its “back”, ensuring that the limbs perform movements in response to a laser light and propel the metal bodies forward.
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Miskin does not hide his satisfaction with what the research has achieved: “Each solar cell is connected to a specific leg. When a laser is fired at them in a certain sequence, the limbs are activated and contract to move in the desired direction. cool.” Below, you can see the result of the feat.
Wandering through the micro world
Applying a method similar to that used to create circuit boards, Miskin and his team mass produced microscopic robots, reaching more than 1 million units – which measure less than a tenth of a millimeter and are visible only through, as already you could imagine, microscopes.
More than just walking, they can even charge electronic devices, which would expand their applications. “We are developing equipment through which we will have detection resources, programming capacity and the like”, emphasizes the researcher, stating that the next steps involve precisely tests of this type. In addition, he hopes he will be able to develop “swarms” of this novelty: “Cool things happen when many robots work together instead of alone.”
Small enough to be injected with a hypodermic needle and made of biocompatible materials, they may roam human bodies in the future and revolutionize medicine. “The hope is that these robots will take us to the micro world”, concludes Miskin.