Tiny robots with giant potential | Paul McEuen and Marc Miskin | Summary and Q&A

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Tiny robots with giant potential | Paul McEuen and Marc Miskin

TL;DR

This content explores the development of tiny robots, known as OWICs, and their potential applications in various fields.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the size of a rotifer?

A rotifer is about the width of a hair, making it a microorganism that is extremely small in size.

Q: Where do rotifers live?

Rotifers can be found anywhere on Earth, both in saltwater and freshwater environments.

Q: What is the goal of the researchers at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania?

The goal of the researchers is to build tiny robots that are so small they can't be seen by the naked eye.

Q: How do the researchers plan on building these tiny robots?

The researchers plan on utilizing existing technology, such as the ability to make tiny electronic devices, sensors, LEDs, and communication packages, and incorporating them into the design of the tiny robots.

Q: What are OWICs and how do they function?

OWICs, or Optical Wireless Integrated Circuits, are tiny devices that have various components, including solar cells, circuits, and LEDs. They communicate through light and can be used for various purposes, such as secure smart tags and medical instruments.

Q: What are the "legs" of the robots made of?

The "legs" of the robots are made of a new type of actuator. These actuators consist of an ultrathin layer of platinum that can bend and unbend when a voltage is applied. They are flexible and small enough to meet the requirements for building cell-sized robots.

Q: How are the robots released from their surface and deployed?

Highly dangerous chemicals are used to etch the substrate underneath the robots, allowing them to become free and fold into their final shapes. The robots can then be placed in various environments and controlled, either by user control or through laser activation of specific solar cells.

Q: What potential uses could the tiny robots have in the future?

The researchers envision a future where tiny robots could be used for a variety of applications, such as secure smart tags, medical instruments, and even potentially being injected into the human body for specific purposes, like monitoring neurons or fighting cancer cells. The possibilities for these tiny robots are vast.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speakers discuss the development of tiny robots at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, inspired by the abilities of microorganisms like rotifers.

  • They emphasize the use of existing technology from the semiconductor industry, such as tiny transistors and communication packages, to build these robots.

  • The robots, called OWICs, have integrated circuits that function as brains and solar-powered actuators that serve as muscle, allowing them to move and walk.

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