Imagine a house so small it would be the right size for a dust mite—the smallest house in the world. Well in Bescat, France scientists have made one using robotics and nanotechnology. Their work has been published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A. Part of a nanorobotics proof of concept project, the idea was to display the potential of optical sensing technology and how it can be used to manipulate ion guns though gas injection as well as move electron beams and perform controlled robotic piloting to create a variety of different constructions.
The new robotics system assembled for the project has been termed μRobotex nanofactor. It uses tiny robots to build microstructures in a big vacuum chamber, and can attach components to optical fiber tips within a nanometer of accuracy. This recent technological advance—allowing sensing elements to be fitted to fiber tips—has removed a lot of the limitations that existed for creating nano-scale microstructures. The next project is to use μRobotex to create even smaller structures and attach them to carbon nanotubes measuring 20 to 100 nanometers in diameter.