The prototype device, which is called activating nanoprecipitation, consists of microscopic gold beads coated with a special polymer gel, the Financial Times writes, citing data of the study, published in the official publication of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The engine at the microscopic level generates a force that in the application per unit weight is hundreds of times more than the capacity of any known motor or muscle.
Professor, University of Cambridge Jeremy Bomberg, who heads the research project, explained to the FT why the nanobots that people say for many years, still do not exist. According to him, the problem is that while there was a way to make them move through a liquid medium. He compared the movement with nanobots swimming in the stream at the nanoscale, because the intermolecular forces are very strong.
The Bomberg said that Cambridge invented in nanoprecipitation can have a very powerful impact compared to its weight, but now scientists have problem, how to control his power.
The study says that the device is driven by a physical rather than chemical reactions. It contains gold nanoparticles with a size of about 0.06 micron, which is about a thousand times thinner than a human hair, which is placed in an aqueous medium with a gel-like polymer pNIPAM (N-isopropyl-acrylamide).
At temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius gold particles tightly associated with the polymer through intermolecular attraction. As the temperature decreases below this critical level, the polymer begins to rapidly absorb water and expand. The result of specks of gold quickly rastalkivaya in hand, like a spring.
The experiments showed that the reaction proceeds rapidly and completely reversible. The prototype of nanobiophotonics controls the temperature of the system using laser, but instead may involve other mechanisms, the researchers note. Critical temperature is also adjustable, it can be configured, for example closer to 37 degrees, which is the normal temperature of the human body.
Nanoprecipitation will be able to control the nanobots, like a piston in a car engine, only billions of times smaller scale. According to Bomberg, now researchers are developing practical applications of established technology.