Micro robots 'walk' thanks to laser lights - potential breakthrough for future medicine

  • Photo: (c) Cornell University/PA

    Researchers from Cornell University developed laser technology last month which can effectively make microscopic robots “walk”.

    The scientists hope the tech - which allows legs around the width of human hair to bend - will one day be able to travel through human blood and tissue.

    Cornell’s team made one million four-legged robots on a silicon wafer measuring four inches, which was powered by low voltage silicon photovoltaics.

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    Photovoltaics is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that create this effect – usually silicon.

    The university experts explain in the Nature journal that the robot is able to walk by thus targeting laser pulses at individual parts each time, but their abilities are limited. 

    The micro mechanisms are slower than other swimming robots, have a lack of integrated control and cannot sense their environments.

    Prof Marc Miskin, lead author of the study said: “Controlling a tiny robot is maybe as close as you can come to shrinking yourself down.

    “I think machines like these are going to take us into all kinds of amazing worlds that are too small to see.”

    The researchers are exploring ways improve the robots with more intricate developments that will one day allow them to crawl through and restructure materials, or probe large areas of the human brain for medical purposes.

    Sources: Cornell Chronicle, The Irish News

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    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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