Tiny floating robots could be useful in all kinds of ways, for example, to probe the human gut for disease or to search the environment for pollutants. In a step toward such devices, researchers describe a new marriage of materials, combining ultrathin 2-D electronics with miniature particles to create microscopic machines.
The researchers will present their work today at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 13,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
“You can make electronic circuits that are a single atom thick, which is just insanely thin,” Michael Strano, Ph.D., says. “One creative use no one has thought of until now is taking these electronics and grafting them onto a colloidal particle. The particle, which can float in the air like a speck of dust, has simple computing functions. You can bring these new electronics to environments they otherwise could not access.”
As a first step, the researchers needed to develop a compatible set of electronic components for the particle’s coating to form a closed autonomous circuit. “This was difficult to do,” says Volodymyr Koman, Ph.D., a research fellow in Strano’s group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We went through a number of different devices to meet certain power and energy requirements.”
In the end, Strano’s team selected a biocompatible material, SU-8, for the micrometer-sized particles and lithographically etched them to create a closed circuit consisting of a power source, a detector and a memory device. The power source was a p-n heterojunction of MoS2 and WSe2 that can convert light into electric current. Both MoS2 and WSe2 are 2-D semiconductors. The detector was a chemiresistor, a distinct single layer of MoS2, designed to change its electrical resistance in response to an environmental agent. The electrical output is stored in a memory device consisting of a separate layer of MoS2 flakes sandwiched between gold and silver electrodes.
Since particle mobility and stability would be an important part of the proposed applications, the researchers first checked whether and how far the electronic particles could travel. Importantly, 2-D materials possess higher strain limits as compared to similar materials. The researchers aerosolized them and propelled them toward a target; the tiny particles flew a couple of feet.
The researchers envision a range of uses for these miniature flying machines. Monitoring large areas for bacteria, spores, smoke, dust or toxic fumes currently requires enormous resources, Koman says. Satellites or a fleet of flying drones can do these tasks but they are expensive, while on-the-ground sensors require labor-intensive installation, which is often slow in comparison to the aerosol spreading velocity. “As an alternative, we introduce the concept of an aerosolizable electronic device,” he says. As one example, the researchers tested the tiny devices in a simulated gas pipeline. The flying machines successfully sailed through the test chamber and detected the presence of carbon particulates or volatile organic compounds along the way and stored this information in memory.
“We put small retroreflectors on the particles — like you have on your bicycles — so they reflect light and allow us to rapidly find the particles,” Koman says. After capture, the researchers downloaded the information from the particles. “For readout, the particles have designated metallic connections, like a socket: Once you insert two probes, you can read out the device’s state.” The memory can then be wiped so the miniature machines can be reused.
The researchers’ next steps are to develop particles for additional applications, including as monitors of the human digestive system. “This is the right idea and the right time,” says Strano. “Think of these as proto-robots.”
Learn more: Make way for the mini flying machines
The Latest on: Microscopic machines
via Google News
The Latest on: Microscopic machines
Micro Gripper Enables Small-Parts Handling
on July 16, 2018 at 6:25 am
SMAC Moving Coil Actuators’ MGR6 series micro gripper has a low moving mass with two independent axes. It is capable of light, controlled forces and can be used as an end effector on third-party robot... […]
Micro-Injection Molding Machine Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2018 – 2025
on July 4, 2018 at 10:19 pm
This report studies the global Micro-Injection Molding Machine market status and forecast, categorizes the global Micro-Injection Molding Machine market size (value & volume) by manufacturers, type, a... […]
A new way to measure energy in microscopic machines
on June 8, 2018 at 2:29 pm
Illustration shows two DNA molecules in a nanofluidic staircase. The staircase confines the DNA molecules, creating a free energy that is higher at the top and lower at the bottom. The DNA molecules m... […]
Move Over Micro Machines, Scalextric Is Zooming Onto Switch Next Week
on June 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm
It's time to relive those precious childhood memories as Scalextric is hitting the Nintendo Switch in video game form next week. In a similar fashion to top-down classic racer Micro Machines, Scalextr... […]
Micro Machines Market Size, Share, Analysis, Industry Demand and Forecasts Report to 2025
on May 17, 2018 at 5:00 pm
QY Research Groups’ professional analysts states that the Global Micro Machines Market to grow at a significant CAGR throughout the forecast period 2017 to 2025. The report ‘Global Micro Machines Mark... […]
Scientists show how bacteria can power micro-machines
on August 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm
A team of scientists has demonstrated how the natural movement of bacteria could be harnessed to assemble and power microscopic ‘windfarms’ – or other man-made micro-machines such as smartphone compon... […]
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) Is an Innovation Machine
on July 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm
On Lisa Su’s first earnings call as CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), back when AMD stock was languishing at less than $3 per share, she set forth a compelling strategy. She said the b... […]
Micro Machines World Series: The Resurrection of Racing Royalty
on May 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm
Kevin McCallister had way more Micro Machines than I did. I was only seven years old when I first saw Home Alone so that was obviously my primary concern at the time. One of the slightly less deadly b... […]
Feature: The Making Of Micro Machines, The Best Racer On The NES
on May 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube And like the toys it was based on, the different types of unlicensed cartridges for Micro Machines can form a small collection. Among them are gold, silver cartri... […]
via Bing News