Human-Cell Sized Microscale Machines Made out of Paper

The creation of microscale machines that have built-in electronics and can be used to deliver chemicals in a targeted, precise manner is pretty incredible in and of itself.  When you add into the equation the fact that these microscale machines are made out of atom-thin paper, that makes it all the more incredible.

Here’s some information about this incredible form of microfacturing.  Be sure you go to the original source to see the illustrations that accompany the article.

Progress to human cell sized transforming robots made from atomically thin paper

Microscale machines – equipped with electronic, photonic and chemical payloads – could become a powerful platform for robotics at the size scale of biological microorganisms.

* prototypes three times larger than a red blood cell have been made
* they are working on the microscale actuator muscles

Microscale machines – equipped with electronic, photonic and chemical payloads – could become a powerful platform for robotics at the size scale of biological microorganisms.

* prototypes three times larger than a red blood cell have been made
* they are working on the microscale actuator muscles

As a consequence, the bimorph bends to relieve some of this strain, allowing one layer to stretch out longer than the other. By adding rigid flat panels that cannot be bent by bimorphs, the researchers localize bending to take place only in specific places, creating folds. With this concept, they are able to make a variety of folding structures ranging from tetrahedra (triangular pyramids) to cubes.

In the case of graphene and glass, the bimorphs also fold in response to chemical stimuli by driving large ions into the glass, causing it to expand. Typically this chemical activity only occurs on the very outer edge of glass when submerged in water or some other ionic fluid. Since their bimorph is only a few nanometers thick, the glass is basically all outer edge and very reactive.

“It’s a neat trick,” Miskin said, “because it’s something you can do only with these nanoscale systems.”

The bimorph is built using atomic layer deposition – chemically “painting” atomically thin layers of silicon dioxide onto aluminum over a cover slip – then wet-transferring a single atomic layer of graphene on top of the stack. The result is the thinnest bimorph ever made.

One of their machines was described as being “three times larger than a red blood cell and three times smaller than a large neuron” when folded. Folding scaffolds of this size have been built before, but this group’s version has one clear advantage.

“Our devices are compatible with semiconductor manufacturing,” Cohen said. “That’s what’s making this compatible with our future vision for robotics at this scale.”

Read More at Next Big Future

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Paul Gordon is the publisher and editor of iState.TV. He has published and edited newspapers, poetry magazines and online weekly magazines. He is the director of Social Cognito, an SEO/Web Marketing Company. You can reach Paul at pg@istate.tv