Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Argonne scientists design self-assembled "micro-robots"

Abstract:
Alexey Snezhko and Igor Aronson, physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, have coaxed "micro-robots" to do their bidding.

Argonne scientists design self-assembled "micro-robots"

Argonne, IL | Posted on September 7th, 2011

The robots, just half a millimeter wide, are composed of microparticles. Confined between two liquids, they assemble themselves into star shapes when an alternating magnetic field is applied. Snezhko and Aronson can control the robots' movement and even make them pick up, transport and put down other non-magnetic particles—potentially enabling fabrication of precisely designed functional materials in ways not currently possible.

The discovery grew out of past work with magnetic "snakes". This time, however, Snezhko and Aronson suspended the tiny ferromagnetic particles between two layers of immiscible, or non-mixing, fluids.

Without a magnetic field, the particles drift aimlessly or clamp together. But when an alternating magnetic field is applied perpendicular to the liquid surface, they self-assemble into spiky circular shapes that the scientists nicknamed "asters", after the flower.

Left to their own devices, the asters don't swim. "But if you apply a second small magnetic field parallel to the surface, they begin to move," said Aronson. "The field breaks the symmetry of the asters' hydrodynamic flow, and the asters begin to swim."

By changing the magnetic field, the researchers discovered they could remotely control the asters' motion.

"We can make them open their jaws and close them," said Snezhko. "This gives us the opportunity to use these creatures as mini-robots performing useful tasks. You can move them around and pick up and drop objects."

They soon discovered that the asters form in two "flavors"; one's flow circulates in toward the center of the aster, and the other circulates outward. They swim in opposite directions based on flavor. These properties are useful because scientists can play the flows against one other to make the asters perform tasks.

For example, four asters positioned together act like a miniature vacuum cleaner to collect free-floating particles.

The asters can pick up objects much larger than themselves; in one video, an aster picks up a glass bead that weighs four times as much as the aster itself.

"They can exert very small forces on objects, which is a big challenge for robotics," Aronson explained. "Gripping fragile objects without smashing them has always been difficult for conventional robots."

The microrobots occupy a niche between laser-powered manipulation and mechanical micromanipulators, the two previous techniques developed for manipulation at the microscale. "You can grab microparticles with lasers, but the force is much smaller," Snezhko explained. "These asters' forces are more powerful, but they can handle items much more delicately than mechanical micromanipulators can."

The materials can even self-repair; if particles are lost, the aster simply re-shuffles itself.

The research is a part of the ongoing effort, funded by the DOE, to understand and design active self-assembled materials. These structures can assemble, disassemble, and reassemble autonomously or on command and will enable novel materials capable of multi-tasking and self-repair.

"For us, this is very exciting. This is a new paradigm for reconfigurable self-assembled materials that can perform useful functions," Aronson said.

The study, "Magnetic Manipulation of Self-Assembled Colloidal Asters", has been published in Nature Materials.

Snezhko and Aronson are part of the Materials Science Division at Argonne. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

####

About Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Louise Lerner
630/252-5526

Copyright © Argonne National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Video - "Micro-robots" team up to act like vacuum cleaner

The study, "Magnetic Manipulation of Self-Assembled Colloidal Asters", has been published in Nature Materials.

Related News Press

News and information

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Laboratories

Nanoscale Mirrored Cavities Amplify, Connect Quantum Memories: Advance could lead to quantum computing and the secure transfer of information over long-distance fiber optic networks January 28th, 2015

New pathway to valleytronics January 27th, 2015

Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It's the mileage, not the age January 26th, 2015

Self-assembled nanotextures create antireflective surface on silicon solar cells: Nanostructured surface textures-with shapes inspired by the structure of moths' eyes-prevent the reflection of light off silicon, improving conversion of sunlight to electricity January 21st, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Nanoscale Mirrored Cavities Amplify, Connect Quantum Memories: Advance could lead to quantum computing and the secure transfer of information over long-distance fiber optic networks January 28th, 2015

Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film January 28th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Molecular Machines

Stomach acid-powered micromotors get their first test in a living animal January 27th, 2015

Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It's the mileage, not the age January 26th, 2015

Mysteries of ‘Molecular Machines’ Revealed: Phenix software uses X-ray diffraction spots to produce 3-D image December 22nd, 2014

Creation of 'Rocker' protein opens way for new smart molecules in medicine, other fields December 18th, 2014

Molecular Nanotechnology

Stomach acid-powered micromotors get their first test in a living animal January 27th, 2015

Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It's the mileage, not the age January 26th, 2015

Going with the flow January 16th, 2015

From the bottom up: Manipulating nanoribbons at the molecular level: Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley team engineers the shape and properties of nanoscale strips of graphene January 12th, 2015

Self Assembly

Engineering self-assembling amyloid fibers January 26th, 2015

Revealed: How bacteria drill into our cells and kill them December 2nd, 2014

Live Images from the Nano-cosmos: Researchers watch layers of football molecules grow November 5th, 2014

Outsmarting Thermodynamics in Self-assembly of Nanostructures: Berkeley Lab reports method for symmetry-breaking in feedback-driven self-assembly of optical metamaterials November 4th, 2014

Discoveries

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Announcements

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE