From Wired.com, An international team of scientists is developing what they say will be the world's first microrobot -- as wide as two human hairs -- that can swim through the arteries and digestive system.
The scientists are designing the 250-micron device to transmit images and deliver microscopic payloads to parts of the body outside the reach of existing catheter technology.
It will also perform minimally invasive microsurgeries, said James Friend of the Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory at Australia's Monash University, who leads the team. The researchers hope the device will reduce the risks normally associated with delicate surgical procedures.
While others have tried and failed to create microrobots for arterial travel, Friend believes his team will succeed because they are the first to exploit piezoelectric materials -- crystals that create an electric charge when mechanically stressed -- in their micromotor design.
Israeli scientists announced last October that they were developing a microrobot that could travel through the spinal canal.
Going into the arteries is a much more challenging proposition.
"The spinal canal is a little bit bigger, and there isn't the high flow that you have in the bloodstream, so the power that you need for the propulsion is smaller," said Shoham.
These are examples of how the vision of nanomedicine and nanobots is not unreasonable. Those who ridicule molecular nanotechnology and nanobots at this point do not know what is happening and what has happened with technology. It also shows that the examples of what molecular nanotechnology would be able to provide that were made over 20 years ago need to be updated. Engines of Creation is online as is Unbounding the Future and Eric Drexlers current website. Those illustrations were conservative based upon trying to be absolutely certain that the prediction was possible.
Reviewing the list of feasible products of molecular nanotechnology:
- medical devices able to destroy pathogens and repair tissues
See above. 250 micron robots for the bloodstream soon.
- desktop computers with a billion processors
Intel has made a prototype 80 core chip
1000 processors for under 100,000 in 2007/2008
Molecular manufacturing will still make more powerful computers but it should be something that leverages more optical communication and processing and energy and heat efficient large scale three dimensional processing.
- materials 100 times stronger than steel
carbon nanotube Superthread and the recent carbon nanotube honeycomb are here and being commercialized.
Molecular nanotechnology would bring the costs down and make even more designer materials like maybe room temperature superconductors.
- inexpensive, efficient solar energy systems
There is various advances in thin film solar
And solar cell efficiency getting to 45% and maybe higher
However, this is an area that needs for more cost reduction (which molecular nanotechnology would provide) along with the best efficiencies.
- superior military systems
See my essay on military application of molecular nanotechnology
- additional molecular manufacturing systems