Tiny microelectromechanical machines running Magic Schoolbus-style through our bodies are the pursuit of nano labs across the globe, but a team of researchers jointly backed by the American National Science Foundation and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council wants something more: a tiny biomimicking robot that functions like a living creature loaded with sensors derived from animal cells.
Your favorite hip-hop artist could save a life someday — or at least control a person’s bladder — through the power of heavy bass beats, according to new research. Acoustic waves from rap music shudder through your body with ease, and can readily power a new implantable medical device.
Tiny machines that can enter our bloodstreams and do work inside of our bodies are a staple of both science fiction and real-world biomedical science, as MEMS and other micromotor devices become increasingly small and effective. A team from the University of California, San Diego, is taking the idea even further by creating what it is calling “microrockets”: tiny self-propelled motors that can zip around an acidic environment, like the human stomach, without the need for any external fuel.
German researchers have turned an optical tweezer device into the world’s first “nano-ear” capable of detecting sounds six orders of magnitude below the threshold of human hearing. Using an optically trapped gold nanoparticle as their listening device, the team says they can now detect sounds made at the bacterial level or use their device to tune (or perhaps to test?) the minuscule MEMS machines of the future.
Holographic video is sort of the holy grail of video display technology right now. Stereoscopic 3-D is fine and everything, but it basically works by tricking the brain into seeing that 3-D depth via two offset 2-D images--hence the occasional headaches associated with current commercial 3-D displays. Holographic video, by contrast, creates images that are really three-dimensional, no glasses or headaches required.
At the University of Stuttgart and the nearby Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, researchers are taking the notion of smaller, more compact engines to a micro-machinery extreme. Their new power generator is a single particle--just 3 mircrometers wide--that functions like a Stirling engine to generate actual work.
Organic light-emitting diodes, thin-film transistors, e-ink and other display technologies get plenty of ink — er, pixels — in these pages. But a non-traditional mechanical approach could be even more efficient, according to a researcher in Taiwan. Mechanical pixels, made of teeny micro-machines, would be visible in bright sunlight and can use far less power than familiar LCD screens.
A tiny three-phase motor invented by Swiss researchers could be used to power a new generation of wristwatches, allowing them to work as mobile phones, app devices and GPS units. Those activities generally require plenty of power, which can be cumbersome and costly — but a new microelectromechanical system will keep them juiced.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute in Lausanne came up with a small electromagnetic three-phase motor that yields three times the energy output of a traditional motor.
New tiny force sensors made out of paper cost just four cents apiece, possibly enabling cheap microelectromechanical devices in anything from consumer electronics to medicine.
Harvard professor George Whitesides developed the paper accelerometers using chromatography paper, tiny sliver and carbon contact pads, and vinyl stencils. The process is so cheap and easy that the sensors could be disposable.
Forget the gigantic Large Hadron Collider — how about a particle-accelerator-on-a-chip?
OK, so it can’t reach the energies produced at the LHC or Tevatron, but this is still pretty impressive. Engineers at a micro-electro mechanical systems conference last week unveiled this tiny cyclotron device, which can speed argon ions down a 5-millimeter accelerator track.