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Microscopic Robots in Your Bloodstream

Engineers have used carbon nanotubes to create artificial muscle that moves like an elephant’s trunk, which could be used to propel microscopic nanobots through the bloodstream. 

What’s the Latest Development?

An international team of scientists led by UT Dallas engineer Ray Baughman have created artificial muscle by using carbon nanotubes that might one day send microscopic robots through the bloodstream. “By twisting together ‘untold billions’ of microscopic, straw-like carbon nanotubes into filamentous strands of ‘yarn,’ Baughman’s team was able to create a nanoscale motor capable of spinning at nearly 600 rpms, and turning a weight 2,000 times heavier than the yarn itself.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The difficulty in creating microscopic machines is that as size decreases, so does power output relative to mass. Baughman’s new method, however, “produces a rotating action 1,000 times larger than previously known artificial muscle systems.” The mechanical movements created by these muscles have potential applications in everything from cancer therapies to portable electronics. The researchers believe that as advancements continue to be made, it will be possible to propel microscopic robots through the human body. 


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