Smaller than the diameter of a hair! New breakthroughs in the field of micro- and nano-robots

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Not long ago, an international team including Chinese scientists developed a "miniature paper crane" that is smaller than the diameter of a hair. Under the influence of voltage, it can automatically fold from a flat surface in less than one second. As a new micro-actuator with a size of only tens of microns, this imaginative paper crane is another breakthrough in the field of micro-nano robot research and development.

At present, there is no unified and strict definition of the size of micro-nano robots in the world. Researchers usually refer to robots with a body size between 1 mm and 1 cm as millimeter robots, those between 1 micron and 1 mm as micron robots, and those between 1 nanometer and 1 micron as nanorobots. Both are collectively called micro and nanorobots.

Due to their small size, micro-nano robots face three main challenges in the development process: energy, drive and control. In response to these problems, scientists have carried out research on micro- and nano-robots that mainly include magnetic drive, light drive, thermal drive, chemical drive micro-nano robots and microbial robots.

Micro-nano robots are mainly made of micro-nano materials, while microbial robots use microbial bacteria, algae cells or white blood cells as micro-robots, and combine their own movement characteristics and external stimuli to control their movement.

Thanks to their ultra-small size, micro-nano robots can move and perform operations in microscopic environments that are inaccessible to traditional equipment. For example, it can enter the natural cavity or blood vessel of an organism for detection and drug delivery, or even enter the interior of a single cell to measure the Young's modulus of the cell nucleus. Micro- and nano-robots can also "operate cooperatively". Scientists can control their groups to change configurations and pass through narrow channels to reach the target location and release drugs.

In the future, if micro-nano robots can achieve the complexity and functions of molecular machines in biological cells, they are expected to help humans edit DNA molecules, treat diseases at the molecular level, build material structures from micro to macro, and even develop new bioenergy. .

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