In 2004 scientists at new york university created a nanobot that bipedally walks on legs that are 10 nanometers long y adding a miolecule called psoralen, found in the seed sof celery and citrus fruits. A few years later a study on the future of nanomaterials said that we’re only like 20 years mayeb 10 years away from a nanosized factory. The psoralen molecule allows the nanobot walk along a DNA strand. The researchers envision that this has the beginnings of a nanobot conveyor belt for nanoassembly. A nanosized car autofactory, assembling nanobots for any imaginable purpose. The NIH says that nanocomputers and nanobots could revolutionize the medical industry by creating nanobots whoch could nmechanically reverse plaque build up in arteries or prepare tissues for cryonics storage, repair spinal damage, rewrite indiviudal bases in our DNA, improve the efficientcy of our cells or map the complicated connections of the mammelian brain. Some of these by the way they’re already doing and things are moving real fast.
TECHNOCYTE: A nanoscale artificial device (especially a nanite) in the human bloodstream used for repairs, cancer protection, as an artificial immune system or for other uses. more
Write about the nanocar
Your future might be a lot smaller and a lot tinier, even smaller than a cell. In 2012 scienctists first built tiny nanobots out of human DNA. These nanobots act like a trojan horse, they look and act like normal DNA but hold enzymes that can treat cancer. These are still in the development stage too but doctors are hoping that these treatments can be programmed to attack cancer on the molecular level.
Robots that can reshape and reform themselves so they can do any particular task perfectly, what if we take that same idea and think small. really small, I’m talking about programmable matter. Actual 3 dimensional tactile material that can take on any predetermined shape and then change shapes on demand. Imagin that we have a programmable material workstation. That might include a little troth with some beige puttuy in it, and this putty looks totally normal, until you send it some information, like a virtual model of a 3d object, and then it springs into action. Forming that object right in front of your eyes. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, and that crazy tech has to be decades away right? Maybe, but maybe not. Ine approach to programmable matter is Claytronics, an idea that came out of carnagie mellon university and intel. The base unit of claytronics is the catom, the computerized atom. Now these catoms can work together to form 3d objects on demand, and building that kind of machine is pretty tricky. They have to be able to recieve energy. They have to be able to communicate with one another and they have to be able to move around, preferably without haveing an moving parts of their own. So serveral years ago Carnagie Mellon University researchers built catom cylindrical prototypes that were 44mm in diameter, now these things were able to move around on a 2d plane pushing and pulling against each other using electromagnets. In the future we want to see even smaller catoms, maybe just a millimeter in size, or the size of a grain of sand, or maybe even smaller than that. In a future where this is a reality, where we have programmable material, why should we be excited about it? Think about it, email has pretty much rendered the fax obsolete, but what if you could fax 3d objects. Let’s say that I have a troth full of claytronic catoms in front of me and I take an object and dip it into that troth. the catoms flow over it, creating a virtual model of the object I put into it. And then I send that to you, and you have your own troth of claytronic catoms that assemble themselves into that same 3d object and boom. I just sent you a copy of a real physical thing. Or in the far future it could be part of telepresence. Forget phone calls and videocalls, I’d be able to create a full 3d claytronic version of myself that could appear in front of you and give you a handshake or even a hug. The entertainment applications for this alone would be astounding. Imagine playing a video game and the characters literally leap off the screen and become literal 3d creatures in your home. And if this stuff becomes plentiful and cheap enough, we could have objects disaassembling and reassembling themselves everywhere. Lets say I have a bunch of friends coming over for dinner and I want to make sure I got enough seats for them. I could use claytronics to build the furtniture right then and there, and then while my guests sleep, I could have it disaassemble back into those individual catoms and go into a vat for storage. This might not happen anytime soon, but I’m still really excited by the prospect of people working on tis technology and we don’t even know were it could go. When people first started making computers, they had no idea the future would turn out as amazing as our present is.
Tiny robots of the future are gonna need tiny little batteries , tiny cameras, and tiny motors, and the scientists of today are working on them right now. Futuriost Ray Kurzweil has been quoted saying that in 25 years, the computer that’s the size of your phone will be millions of times more powerful but will be the size of a blood cell , 6 to 8 microns, and new nanoengineering is helping scientists build the robot which that computer could drive. Because of this new technique, future robots could be the size of specks of dust, or even smaller. Engineers in China and australia have created a double-walled carbon nanotube motor. They published their findings in the journal of nanotechnology and believed that this could be a bog player in future nanodevices. We’ve talked about graphene before, a super strong one atom thick sheet of carbon atoms. When you roll that graphene into a tiny tube, you get a carbon nanotube. These nanotubes are exceptionally strong, but when you roll 2, one inside the other, the engineers believed that a nanomotor could result. At the macrolevel, motors run when a magenetic device is spun inside of a tube of electrical wire, the current in the wire generates a magnetic flux which pulls the inner magenet around running the motor. But at the nano level there’s no way that’ll work. You can’t sodder a wire into the outer tiube at the nanolevel and run electricty. So instead this double walled carbon nanotube motor works because at the atomic level there;s a thing called thevan der waals interaction. The van der waals interaction describes how atoms interact with each other due to electrical charge, which makes sens regarding a nanoscale motor. QWhen the researchers put the 2 tubes together, these atomic forces caused the inner nanotube to start spinning. Then they had to figure out how to control that spin, because a spinning tube at the nanolevel doesn’t really do much on its own. The researchers messed with the length of the outer tube to change the speed and they found the ideal amount of space between the inner and outer tubes to encourage the best rotation. But in the end, the temperature turns out to be the keystone. At a fairly warm room temperature at about 300 kelvin they can get the motor to rotate the best. If they change the room temperature, they could also change the speed of the rotation, obviously the goal is to create a temperature driven motor made of double walled carbon nanotubes. Nanoscale engineering isn’t new, but the idea of making a nanomotor, that’s pretty novel. Nano by the wy means 10 to the negative 9th power, or one one billionth of a meter. Working at tat scale requires extreme precision, and if engineers cna master those skills then it’s only a matter of time before ray Kurzweil’s blood cell computer is put into a blood cell nanoelectromechanical system, you could augment our immunesystems, you could rebuild our bodies, we could even ingest new technologies. Even attach to our neurons and start mapping our brain, bringing us into the neurotech age.
UTILITY FOG: A collective of nanotechnological devices (“Foglets”) that link together into a complex network in the air, able to work together to exert force in any direction or transmit information between each other. This would give users almost complete control over their environment. See Utility Fog by J. Storrs Hall [J. Storrs Hall 1994]
TECHNOCYTE: A nanoscale artificial device (especially a nanite) in the human bloodstream used for repairs, cancer protection, as an artificial immune system or for other uses. [A Sandberg 1995]
Think smaller, why not have tiny robots, the size of a red blood cell, that you could ingest. Its not easy to achieve robots on the nano scale just by miniturizing the systems we aready have, this is called the “top down approach”. The other method which might be better is the “Bottom up”, to build machines fro the bottom up, atom by atom, small enough to swim through our blood stream to monitor our health, deliver drugs, and perform surgeries as needed. We are making progress, scientist have made machines that you can eat. In early 2015 scientists from MIT devised an oragami robot, a drobot that can fold itself into a shape that lets it propell itself. It’s much bigger than nanoscale, but because it’s foldable, it can be reduced down to a size that fits in a pill. The scientists who made it think it might be useful to remove things in the stomach that were accidentally swallowed. It can’t control it’s own movements yet, it needs an operator applying a magnetic field to swim. Scientists from UC san diego tested tiny bots just 20 micrometers i length that could actually propeell themselves through stomach acid. When fed to a mouse, these machines shot off toward the stomach walls and embedded themselves in the lining where they delivered a drug. It was the first instance in history of a nanobot being used on a living animal. Aniother group of researchers from ETH Zurich also came up with the idea of using external magnets to solve the problem of locomotion, they made robots so small that 3 billion of them could fit in a teaspoon. you don’t swallow these bots though, their creators imagine that they’ll be more useful if they’re injected into your eye where they would swim throught the vitreous humor and poke the blood vessels to break up blood clots. The goal ios to get even smaller totally autonamous machines. To quote late nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman “it would be interesting in surgery if you could swallow the surgeon”. Feynman proposed that in 1959 and is generally credited with kickstarting this nanotechnology movement. He layed out 2 challenges to the scientific community, shrink the inforamation on the page of a book down 25 ,000 times and create a motor that was just 1/64th of a cubic inch. He proposed a financial reward for either of those challenges. Within a year, someone claimed the prize for challenge number 2. Bill Mclellen used watchmaking techniques, toothpicks, and the patience of a saint to build a tiny conventional electric motor. So why no nanobots? Porbably because Feynman didn’t make the size requirement small enough. The motor is the size of a grain of salt, which is huge compared to something like a red blood cell. Even though his original challenges were met, the foresite institute has offfered a 250,000 $ prize named the Feynman Grand Prize to anyone who can build a nanoscale robotic arm and computer. Since this nanofuture is being built at universities, maybe the person to claim that new prize will be you. But could robots ever evolve on their own? Could they one day be indistinguishable from us?
For the first timein history, we are living with a growing elderly population. In the 20th century, medical breakthroughs extended the averasge human lifespan from, 40 to 80 years of age. Many believe that theis pales in comparison to what we’ll see in the next 1000 years. It’s not realistic to talke about life expectancies of people whon are born today because even if they were only to live till 2080, which is life expectancy today, by then the prospects for life extension are so wonderous that they could live for centuries,. What we look at in the lab is the analog of humans in their 2000s playing great tennis. If we manage to interfere t=with the genetic blueprints, maximum lifespan is up for grabs.
our best hope for immortality comes from a technology even stranger than turning old blood young. Implanting tiny robots in your bloodstream that repair your cells and might keep you alive forever. It absolutely is not science fiction. The secret to man’s quest to live forever might be in a remarkable piece of tech invisible to the human eye, smaller than a speck of dust but powerful enough to repair your cells the moment they show signs of aging. In a wakeforest university laboratory, this seemingly impossible technology is becoming possible. IDavid L Caroll in Wake Forest University, has burn dressings that kill bacteria that do not use antibiotics, so it doesn’t make the bacteria resistant to antibiotics, it involves nanosilver particles, we are using them today. Nanorobots are the ultimate disease fighting weapon, custom designed to carry out search and destroy missions agaist deafly viruses, these blood born robots built of carbon are a million times thinner than a human hair. 1 and a half nanometers across, put it next to a srand of DNA, the DNA could curl around it. It’s just that small. They are assembled microscopically, by stringing together molecules and atoms creating what look like strage exotic alien creatie. Think of them as manufacturesd parasites with positive medical qualities. We can wipe out terminal illemnesses like canncer. Once injected the nanoboty hunts down the tumor and attaches itself to it. A laser nam fired through the skin at the nanobot heats the silverarticles inside it, causing a chemical reaction that destroys the tumor. Dr. Caroll has tested nanobots in his lab to treat mice. The results are startling. We’ve developed a machine which we can relaeased into the body and target the cancer even if we can’t see the cancer on MRI or any other imaging modality. You can watch the tumors shrink, it’s that rapid and they don’t come back.. But what if these nano assassins turned on its host and started attacking healthy parts of the body, are we at risk of being destroyed from the inside? Can this technology designed to extend life also cut it short?
Transhuman, a shorthand for transitory human, people who are adopting technologies, lifestyles, and worldviews that were transitional to posthumanity.
The core concept of transhumanism is using technology to improve mental and physical health and the length of human lifespan too, preferably indefinitely. This is hardly a new concept.People have been using herbs, and rituals to attempt so etimes successfully similar things for untold centuryies. We’ve been sticking atificial things in our bodies for a long time too. Dental fillings have been f0und in human skulls 10,000 years old. Humans have been on the rout to being cyborgs since we put cloths on. We’ve been doing genetic engineering of people probably longer and our crops and livestock are not the byproducut of natural evolution. just because a lot of new ideas involve microchips in people, or direct tinkering with DNA, doesn’t really change change that beyond making it a lot more effective. There’s very little natural about you or i, mankind isn’t simply a maker of artificial technolgies, we are now and always have been, the most blatent and shining example and tinkering with nature. So in most folks minds there is some sort of line where we cease being natural by putting nanobots in ourselves, its important to understand that these are mostly arbitrary, and when it comes to being natural that ship sailed long ago. Drinking a gherbal concoction to improve health or clear your mind for better thinkg, meditating, is same purpose of intent as cramming tiny machines in you to do the same tricks. Same goal, same ointent, different method. There’s an awful lot of folks alive right now because of all sorts of electronic gizmos pacemakers keeping them alive or making their lives easier,.and frankl;y im not sure what the difference is between a smart phone in my pocket or one in my head, except that the latter seems more convenient. In so far as we are just using artificial means to make people healthier, smarter or long lived, i don’t think there’s much firm ground to gain any more footing. We’ve been doing this with mixed success for as liong as we’ve been around as a civiliazation, just because we’re more advanced and scientific with it now, doesn’t make it morally or conceptually any different than in the past
Nanomedicine animation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaR7RCa81BQ
WATCH THESE VIDS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgWZ_g0BkeE&list=PL1doL1wUlBhDyFFeL5KBYgNH0GX9O0Y27
The next goal is to fight illness in the body at the same tiny scale. Cardiologist Samuel Wickline at Washington University School of medicine has invented a nanodevice that’s smaller than a virus. Engineered atom by atom, his nanobodts are designed to travel by the billions in the bloodstream. They are pre-programmed by a doctor to seak out specific types of cancer cells and destroy them, with none of the side effects associated with current drug therapies. It’s the ultimate fantastic voyage dream. the nanobots carry bee venome, which is extremely toxic to cells. It’s been known for quite sometime that bee venom was an excellent cancer drug, but it was impossible to deliver to the right places and in the right quantities, until now. Doctor Wickline has engineered a nanoscale robot to carry the toxin safely through the body, not harming healthy cells, and release it only when it finds it’s target. He calls his invention Nanobees. Each nanobee has 3 parts. A sphere of Carbon and Fluorine atoms forms the carrier for that Melotin. The center of the nanobee is a particle consrtucted from several thousand carbon and flurorine atoms arranged in a spherical cluster less than 300 nanometers in diameter. There is a coating on that, a fatty coating that allows is to insert the melatin toxin into the particle onto the sphere. This outer layer holds the deadly bee poison in palce. A holster that keeps the gun safe until it’s drawn. Each cancer cell has a distinct chemical makeup, the outer layer of the nanobee is programmed to selectively lock on to only those cells that need to be destroyed. The nanoparticle comes up next to the cancer cell and merge with it. The coating will come off and the melotin itself forms a hole in the cancer cell and pops it. But like it’s name sake, the nanobee can sting only once, so swarms of them are required for any treatment. The nanobes are being tested at the preclinical stage, waiting for F D A approval to develop it as a medicine. Manufacturing them isn’t that hard. Nanobees are a unique breed of materials that self assemble. No need for big complicated machinery to make nanobees. Just put the right material together in a container and, at the right temperature and conditions, they will assemble themselves.
Swarms of tiny tiny robots wizzing through your body. Throught nanotechnology, the field of science that works on the nanoscale, one billionth of a meter, researchers have begun devloping nanobots, not tiny metal machines but custom made particles. By coating them with special proteins or molecules of medicine, some nanobots have been found to successfully target things like tumor cells and lab animals. Prominent futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that within the next 20 years we’ll be flooding our bodies with millions of nanobots designed to augment our immune systems, destroy cancerous tissues, repair damaged or diseases body parts, clean out clogged arteries without invasive surgeryies. This tech could have serious implications for life extension, a main focus of ther transhumanist and nanotechnology movements. New technologies are often met with fear and skepticism, but whether you’re terrified or excited by the notion of these, know that these techhnologies are coming at us fast and have the potential if not the promise to change not just our bodies and minds, but our entire world.
Millions of computerized devices too small to see with the naked eye into the smallest of blood vessels, on a fantastic voyage to cure from within. A device called a respirocyte. Its mission? To release oxygen molecules into the blood, and sop up the carbon dioxide, allowing te body to breath freely once again. These build themselves in a method called “nanomolecular self assembly, just throw together some chemicals and let them do the workl. We put dozens of compounds into a beaker and mix it up. Just billions of molecules acting naturally.
NANOBOT SUBMARINES (DRUG DELIVERY SYSTEMS)
Now and again it pays off, and this morning we were thrilled to discover an intriguing item in the Dutch chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie. It seems scientists in the Netherlands have developed a nanoscopic submarine robot that delivers medicine by self-destructing inside cancer cells.
OK, we’re making up the orbital thing. But the nanotech submarine is entirely real.
Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands began by assembling a synthetic nanoscale vesicle, a kind of bladder or sac that can be filled with liquids or gases — in this case, anti-cancer drugs. Vesicles are commonly produced by living cells, but can also be synthesized in the lab.
Similar nanomedical drug-delivery systems have been developed previously, but the Dutch technology adds some new twists. For one thing, the vesicle is self-propelling thanks to a chemical nanomotor that uses hydrogen peroxide for fuel. As the hydrogen peroxide degrades, the vesicle is propelled forward, into and through the cell wall of a cancerous tumor.
As a self-propelling vehicle operating at the nano scale, the vesicle really does function like a fantastically tiny submarine. You can make a good case that the vesicle is a robot, too, depending on how you define your terms. Once the synthetic drug-delivery system gets within the vicinity of the cancer cells, it operates autonomously, reacting to specific chemical triggers that lead the vesicle to the tumor cells.
It gets even stranger: After the vesicle penetrates through the cell wall, it essentially self-destructs, releasing its payload of anti-cancer drugs where the medicine can do the most good.
This last bit proved to be the trickiest part. The Dutch team was trying to find a way for the vesicle to deliver the medicine within the bladder, but without the use of any outside trigger. That’s when they came across a chemical signaling agent called glutathione, typically found in high concentrations within cancerous tumors.
By fiddling with the composition of the vesicle membrane, the Dutch team was able to seal the medicine itself with a material that reacts to the presence of glutathione. When the submarine penetrates through the cell wall, the glutathione dissolves the bonds that are more or less holding the entire submarine together.
“The glutathione enters into the shell of the nanomotor and then breaks down the redox-responsive disulfide bonds, resulting in cleavage of the outside shell,” researchers explain in the study.
The bottom line is that the new technique could potentially improve future “deliver-and-unpack” drug-delivery strategies, helping doctors get medicines precisely where they want them.
This is why it always pays to leaf through Dutch biochemistry journals.
DNA ORAGAMI NANOBOTS CURE EVERY TYPE OF CANCER
DNA origami is a technique that allows scientist to use DNA molecules as programmable building blocks, which make use of the programmable molecular recognition of complementary DNA cohesion to assemble designed structures. By taking a single strand of DNA, scientist are able to manipulate the genetic code, telling the DNA to self-assemble into predetermined shapes. In order to do this, scientist use software that is similar to CAD. It programs the DNA and tells it to fold back and forth into a desired shape or pattern.
Almost seven years after the original technique of DNA origami was developed by Paul Rothemund at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Ido Bachelet and his team evolved the concept of DNA origami into a radical new drug delivery system. In Dr. Bachelet’s recent publication ‘Designing a bio-responsive robot from DNA origami‘ his team was able to take the genome of a virus as the primary building block of his structure and create a cage like scaffolding that has the capability to house life promoting drugs such as antibiotics and chemotherapy medicines.
However, these nanorobots not only have the ability to house powerful medicines; they can also deliver the drugs to the precise location that requires healing.
The current version of these nanorobots are free floating robots that float through the bloodstream by the billions and remain neutral until they encounter a location that requires assistance. The nanorobots know that they have reached the proper location by molecular cues that are programmed into them to move from their closed neutral state to its open state (See image 2 below). These molecular cues act as the key to activate the neutralized nanorobot into combat ready mode, and tell it to treat the infection site, delivering the drugs directly to the cancerous spot or site of infection.
Currently, one of the primary problem with chemotherapy is that the drugs being injected into the patient are not only killing the rogue cancerous cells but healthy cells as well. By taking a sample of the cancerous cells, or by knowing the specific molecular markers of the rogue cells, scientists are able to program the nanorobots to only attack the enemy cells with a specific payload.
The idea is that the nanorobots don’t excrete the drug or release it. Instead, they make the drug accessible or inaccessible by turning it on and off. Because the drug is linked to the robot, one could think of it as a sword and the wielder. As the nanobot prepares to attack the cell that it was programmed to destroy, it enables its sword (the drug), that attacks the cell and then sheaths the drug again, leaving all of the healthy cells around the infection site unaffected by the potent chemotherapy drugs. Once could also think of this technology as predator that haS the ability to hone in and wipe out any enemy insurgents while leaving the healthy citizen population unaffected by the combat.
I’m sure some of you are asking ‘what happens when these nanorobots have achieved their objective? I don’t want millions maybe even billions of loaded nanorobots with powerful chemo drugs floating in my body.’ The nanorobots have a half-life of an hour or two, but scientist can modify them to live up to 3 days before they start the disintegration process, which is via enzymes. These enzymes slowly start to form segregates about a half-micron in size (size of bacteria). As they slowly dismantle the nanobot, the payload is gradually released into the body at non-lethal doses until the enzymes have completed their task of disassembling, leaving the body free of the cancer and of any nanorobots.
The current model of nanobots are extremely efficient in disengaging certain types of cells or delivering payloads to specific sites in the body. However, for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, where the body suffers a death on the molecular level, these nanobots are non-effective. In the future, it is possible that we will see an all-in-one nanorobot package. These nanobots would not only have the ability to destroy cells but promote the rejuvenation of cells without increasing likelihood of tumors or cancers as well.
Another additional future functionality that we will see in coming versions is the ability to direct or steer nano particles to the precise location that requires treatment. Technically, this would be creating a new surgeon; the Nanorobot Surgeon. These doctors would have the ability to cut, stitch, and sample cells without ever having to perform what we consider modern day surgery. Dr. Bachelet and his team have already connected these nanorobots to an Xbox controller, acting as the conductor to a symphony of nanorobots working in unison to eradicate cancerous cells. These systems of controlling these nanorobots will grow in complexity and sophistication, completely changing the coming face of healthcare around the world.
This year, researchers hope that tiny robots built entirely of DNA will help save a critically ill leukemia patient. These DNA nanobots are designed to seek out and destroy cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells unscathed. So far, they’ve only been tested in cell cultures and animal studies.
Ido Bachelet of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University (and formerly of Harvard’s Wyss Institute) announced their human trial last year at the British Friends of Bar-Ilan University event. “No, no it’s not science fiction,” he said. “It’s already happening.”
The technology is modeled after our body’s own defenses. Like white blood cells, the nanobots patrol the bloodstream, looking for signs of distress. DNA is a naturally biocompatible and biodegradable material, and the devices are designed to not incite an immune response.
In a 2012 Science paper, Bachelet and colleagues described a DNA nanobot shaped like a hexagonal tube, with its two halves connected by a latched hinge (pictured above). When the little device recognizes a target cell based on its surface proteins, the two halves swing open like a clam to deliver a tiny but deadly cargo of drugs or nanoparticles. These could be molecules that force cancer cells to self-destruct by interfering with their growth, for example. When the researchers released their tiny bots into a mixture of healthy and cancerous human blood cells, half of the cancer cells were destroyed within three days. No healthy cells were harmed.
Then about a year ago, a newer version of these DNA nanobots were injected into live cockroaches. These devices were created using DNA strands that would self-assemble into a box with a controllable lid. Each box contained a molecule that binds hemolymph cells (like blood cells in people), and the nanobots themselves were labeled with fluorescent markers so Bachelet’s could follow them. These findings, published in Nature Nanotechnology, demonstrated the accuracy of their tiny delivery system.
Is this nano-sized technology now ready for humans? In his announcement last year, Bachelet said the DNA nanobots can currently identify 12 different types of cells in humans, ranging from solid tumors to the abnormal white blood cells associated with leukemia.
The patient selected for this year’s early trial has been given only a few more months to live. The team expects to remove the cancer within one month.
A group of physicists recently built the smallest engine ever created from just a single atom. Like any other engine it converts heat energy into movement – but it does so on a smaller scale than seen before. The atom is trapped in a cone of electromagnetic energy and lasers are used to heat it up and cool it down, which causes the atom to move back and forth in the cone like an engine piston.
The scientists from the University of Mainz in Germany who are behind the invention don’t have a particular use in mind for the engine. But it’s a good illustration of how we are increasingly able to replicate the everyday machines we rely on at a tiny scale. This is opening the way for some exciting possibilities in the future, particularly in the use of nanorobots in medicine, that could be sent into the body to release targeted drugs or even fight diseases such as cancer.
Nanotechnology deals with ultra-small objects equivalent to one billionth of a metre in size, which sounds an impossibly tiny scale at which to build machines. But size is relative to how close you are to an object. We can’t see things at the nanoscale with the naked eye, just as we can’t see the outer planets of the solar system. Yet if we zoom in – with a telescope for the planets or a powerful electron microscope for nano-objects – then we change the frame of reference and things look very different.
However, even after getting a closer look, we still can’t build machines at the nanoscale using conventional engineering tools. While regular machines, such as the internal combustion engines in most cars, operate according to the rules of physics laid out by Isaac Newton, things at the nanoscale follow the more complex laws of quantum mechanics. So we need different tools that take into account the quantum world in order to manipulate atoms and molecules in a way that uses them as building blocks for nanomachines. Here are four more tiny machines that could have a big impact.
Graphene engine for nanorobots
Graphene bulge American Chemical Society
Researchers from Singapore have recently demonstrated a simple but nano-sized engine made from a highly elastic piece of graphene. Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms that has exceptional mechanical strength. Inserting some chlorine and fluorine molecules into the graphene lattice and firing a laser at it causes the sheet to expand. Rapidly turning the laser on and off makes the graphene pump back and forth like the piston in an internal combustion engine.
The researchers think the graphene nano-engine could be used to power tiny robots, for example to attack cancer cells in the body. Or it could be used in a so-called “lab-on-a-chip” – a device that shrinks the functions of a chemistry lab into tiny package that can be used for rapid blood tests, among other things.
The rotors that produce movement in machines such as aircraft engines and fans all usually suffer from friction, which limits their performance. Nanotechnology can be used to create a motor from a single molecule, which can rotate without any friction. Normal rotors interact with the air according to Newton’s laws as they spin round and so experience friction. But, at the nanoscale, molecular rotors follow quantum law, meaning they don’t interact with the air in the same way and so friction doesn’t affect their performance.
Nature has actually already shown us that molecular motors are possible. Certain proteins can travel along a surface using a rotating mechanism that create movement from chemical energy. These motor proteins are what cause cells to contract and so are responsible for our muscle movements.
Researchers from Germany recently reported creating a molecular rotor by placing moving molecules inside a tiny hexagonal hole known as a nanopore in a thin piece of silver. The position and movement of the molecules meant they began to rotate around the hole like a rotor. Again, this form of nano-engine could be used to power a tiny robot around the body.
A rocket is the fastest man-made vehicle that can freely travel across the universe. Several groups of researchers have recently constructed a high-speed, remote-controlled nanoscale version of a rocket by combining nanoparticles with biological molecules.
In one case, the body of the rocket was made from a polystyrene bead covered in gold and chromium. This was attached to multiple “catalytic engine” molecules using strands of DNA. When placed in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, the engine molecules caused a chemical reaction that produced oxygen bubbles, forcing the rocket to move in the opposite direction. Shining a beam of ultra-violet light on one side of the rocket causes the DNA to break apart, detaching the engines and changing the rocket’s direction of travel. The researchers hope to develop the rocket so it can be used in any environment, for example to deliver drugs to a target area of the body.
Magnetic nano-vehicles for carrying drugs
Magnetic nanoparticles Tapas Sen, Author provided
My own research group is among those working on a simpler way to carry drugs through the body that is already being explored with magnetic nanoparticles. Drugs are injected into a magnetic shell structure that can expand in the presence of heat or light. This means that, once inserted into the body, they can be guided to the target area using magnets and then activated to expand and release their drug.
The technology is also being studied for medical imaging. Creating the nanoparticles to gather in certain tissues and then scanning the body with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could help highlight problems such as diabetes.
NANOCHONDRIA: Nanomachines existing inside living cells, participating in their biochemistry (like mitochondria) and/or assembling various structures. See also nanosome. [Ken Clements 1996]
NANOSOME: Nanodevices existing symbiotically inside biological cells, doing mechanosynthesis and disassembly for it and replicating with the cell. Similar to nanochondria. [Anders Sandberg January 1998]
(MY ORIGINAL PARAGRAPH) Nanobots can eventually be designed to cure thrombosis, dilate blood vessels, and perform specific tasks inside the body. These nanomachines could eventually even be capable of performing the entire functions of specific cells, making them obsolete. The moment we start putting these microscopic factories into our body, we become something called a Nanoborg, distinct from Bioborgs, which only use organic bioware, and conventional cyborgs, which deal with cybernetic nervous system augmentations. But we can go even smaller than cyborg cells, building artificial cells from the ground up with things like Nanochondria, a nanomachine that can perform the function of the mitochondria more efficiently than it can. Perhaps even nanoribosomes, allowing our body to make millions of new kinds of proetins we couldn’t previously make. Nanolysosomes that break down junk inside our cells and keep them healthy. Then there’s the holy grail. Self replicating Nanobots capable of synthesizing any organic structure in the cell, even D N A, which makes the concept of a biological cell obsolete. Once we’ve replaced most of the cells in the human body with artificial cells, Nanoborgs can start connecting their neurons as well, blurring the line between cyborgs as we replace our neurons with nanobots as well. Once these nanobots get into our brain, they can start transmitting that information to an external computer, gradually transferring functions like memory onto a computer. This would be a form of mind-uploading, letting you constantly transmit multilevel backups of personality to an international distributed computer network. Kind of like save states in a video game. If you die from a car crash, you can just download your last personality backup and pick up 5 minutes ago from when left off (MY ORIGINAL PARAGRAPH)