These tiny, autonomous robots don’t need computer programs to repair circuits

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These tiny, autonomous robots don’t need computer programs to repair circuits

These tiny, autonomous robots don’t need computer programs to repair circuits
Not all autonomous robots need artificial intelligence to power them. At the molecular level, nanobots can do pretty impressive things without lines of code dictating their moves. They do our bidding because the physical laws of their environment force them to do so.

By exploiting such quirks of nature, scientists have now built nanobots that can repair broken circuits that are too small for a human eye to see. Such tiny repairs could help modern electronics have a longer shelf life, but these proof-of-concept, autonomous nanobots have bigger potential. They could one day soon be used for self-healing materials and delivering drugs inside the human body.

To build them, Joseph Wang of the University of California at San Diego and Anna Balazs of the University of Pittsburgh took inspiration from nature. When you cut yourself, the platelets in your blood sense the wound and start aggregating to start the healing process. They wanted to create tiny robots that could do something similar.

So they started with Janus particles made of gold and platinum. These spherical nanobots (or "nanomotors" as the researchers call them) are thousands of times smaller than a pinhead and have two surfaces with distinct properties. This choice was critical to power the nanobots to act as Wang and Balazs wanted them to.

By exploiting such quirks of nature, scientists have now built nanobots that can repair broken circuits that are too small for a human eye to see. Such tiny repairs could help modern electronics have a longer shelf life, but these proof-of-concept, autonomous nanobots have bigger potential. They could one day soon be used for self-healing materials and delivering drugs inside the human body.

To build them, Joseph Wang of the University of California at San Diego and Anna Balazs of the University of Pittsburgh took inspiration from nature. When you cut yourself, the platelets in your blood sense the wound and start aggregating to start the healing process. They wanted to create tiny robots that could do something similar.

So they started with Janus particles made of gold and platinum. These spherical nanobots (or "nanomotors" as the researchers call them) are thousands of times smaller than a pinhead and have two surfaces with distinct properties. This choice was critical to power the nanobots to act as Wang and Balazs wanted them to.

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