Super-Nanomachines Made of Diamond

Wear and tear presents a unique problem for nanomachines since the devices are far too small for technicians to swap in spare parts. The solution? Make them out of diamonds. 

What's the Latest Development?


To prevent wear and tear on microscopic machines made from nanotechnology, scientists are learning how to make them out of diamond, the world's hardest substance. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (N.I.S.T.) is learning to use corrosive chemicals to etch small boxes into the face of diamond with a high degree of precision. "The divots are so exact that they could easily become the teeth of gears, or some other component of a nanoscale machine." Diamond can also vibrate at very high frequencies, which electronic consumer devices demand. 

What's the Big Idea?

Advocates of nanotechnology claim that the use of microscopic machines, typically about the size of a red blood cell, will soon be a part of everyday life. Industries that could utilize the technology range from medicine to consumer electronics, where small size offers big advantages. "The N.I.S.T. team created cavities ranging in width from one to 72 micrometers, each with smooth vertical sidewalls and a flat bottom. For comparison, a human hair is about 100 micrometers thick." The chemical process used by the team has yet to be optimized. 

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

(shutterstock)
Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less