Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

mardi 26 août 2003

I wrote recently about spray-on nanocomputers. Now, according to the Associated Press, a team of chemists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has developed minuscule grains of silicon able to self-assembly and to sense their environment, paving the way for future nanorobots.

The particles can identify and surround drops of oil or other pollutants in water, according to the researchers at the University of California, San Diego.
And they hope the research could be a first step to developing minute robots for use in medicine, pollution monitoring and even bioterrorism surveillance.
"This is a key development in what we hope will one day make possible the development of robots the size of a grain of sand," Michael Sailor, leader of the research team, said in a statement.

This UCSD news release tells us more.

To create the smart dust, the researchers use chemicals to etch one side of a silicon chip, similar to the chips used in computers, generating a colored mirrored surface with tiny pores. They make this porous surface water repellent, or hydrophobic, by allowing a chemical that is hydrophobic to bind to it. They then etch the other side of the chip to create a porous reflective surface of a different color and expose the surface to air so that it becomes hydrophilic, or attractive to water.

Here is a small image of smart dust particles surrounding a drop of hydrophobic liquid in water (Credit: Jamie Link, UCSD).

Smart dust particles

[Note: A much larger image (2048 x 1536 pixels) is available from this UCSD location.]

Jamie Link, a graduate student [and member of the research team] says the dual-sided particles have the additional benefit of being able to collect at a target and then self-assemble into a larger, more visible reflector that can be seen from a distance.

It seems we're getting closer everyday from these "robots the size of a grain of sand."

Sources: The Associated Press, August 25, 2003; UCSD news release, August 25, 2003

1:56:46 PM  Permalink  Comments []  Trackback []

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2004 Roland Piquepaille.
Last update: 01/11/2004; 11:50:36.

August 2003
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Jul   Sep

Search this blog for

Courtesy of PicoSearch

Personal Links

Other Links

Ars Technica
Daily Rotation News
Microdoc News
Smart Mobs


Dave Barry
Paul Boutin
Dan Bricklin
Dan Gillmor
Mitch Kapor
Lawrence Lessig
Jenny Levine
Karlin Lillington
Jean-Luc Raymond
Ray Ozzie
John Robb
Jean-Yves Stervinou
Dolores Tam
Dylan Tweney
Jon Udell
Dave Winer
Amy Wohl

Drop me a note via Radio
Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

E-mail me directly at

Subscribe to this weblog
Subscribe to "Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends" in Radio UserLand.

XML Version of this page
Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Technorati Profile

Listed on BlogShares