Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

Laboratories

NIST physicists show ion pairs perform enhanced 'spooky action' March 30th, 2017

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods March 25th, 2017

Researchers develop groundbreaking process for creating ultra-selective separation membranes: Discovery could greatly improve energy-efficiency of separation and purification processes in the chemical and petrochemical industries March 15th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

Molecular Machines

First 3-D observation of nanomachines working inside cells: Researchers headed by IRB Barcelona combine genetic engineering, super-resolution microscopy and biocomputation to allow them to see in 3-D the protein machinery inside living cells January 27th, 2017

Micro-bubbles make big impact: Research team develops new ultrasound-powered actuator to develop micro robot November 25th, 2016

Scientists come up with light-driven motors to power nanorobots of the future: Researchers from Russia and Ukraine propose a nanosized motor controlled by a laser with potential applications across the natural sciences and medicine November 11th, 2016

HKU chemists develop world's first light-seeking synthetic Nanorobot November 9th, 2016

Molecular Nanotechnology

First 3-D observation of nanomachines working inside cells: Researchers headed by IRB Barcelona combine genetic engineering, super-resolution microscopy and biocomputation to allow them to see in 3-D the protein machinery inside living cells January 27th, 2017

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Tip-assisted chemistry enables chemical reactions at femtoliter scale November 16th, 2016

Scientists come up with light-driven motors to power nanorobots of the future: Researchers from Russia and Ukraine propose a nanosized motor controlled by a laser with potential applications across the natural sciences and medicine November 11th, 2016

Self Assembly

Nanotubes that build themselves April 14th, 2017

Nanocages for gold particles: what is happening inside? March 16th, 2017

Most Complex Nanoparticle Crystal Ever Made by Design: Possible applications include controlling light, capturing pollutants, delivering therapeutics March 2nd, 2017

Molecular phenomenon discovered by advanced NMR facility: Cutting edge technology has shown a molecule self-assembling into different forms when passing between solution state to solid state, and back again - a curious phenomenon in science - says research by the University of Wa February 22nd, 2017

Discoveries

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

Announcements

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

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