Space Rovers of the Atomic World

Nano-robotics is a fascinating field of atomic level movement and construction. Basically, micro robots perform various pre-programmed tasks at the atomic level. Because they operate on such a

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small-scale, these robots have to be incredibly tiny and a measured in nanometers. Since this type

of measurement is almost never used in common conversations, here are some examples:

•A strand of hair  is about 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide

•A sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick

•An ant is 5 million nanometers long.

Nano-robotics has a complex and vast history. The first example of this field as we know it was in 1936 when Erwin Müller, working at Siemens Research Laboratory, created the field emission microscope. Although this is certainly not a mini atom-destroying robot, it provided a look into the atomic world. Specifically, it took clear pictures of substances at their atomic resolution. In 1956, Arthur von Hippel of MIT coined the term “molecular engineering” and the corresponding fields. Later on in 1989, Don Eigler and Erhard Schweizer at IBM’s Almaden Research Center stimulated several xenon atoms to spell out the company’s logo. Nowadays, nanotechnology is

(Image from Nanorobotics Timeline)

something different. Some of the leading researchers in this field include IBM Nanoscale Science and Technology Group, Institute for Nanoelectronics and computing, Quantum Science Research Group, and Center for electron Transport in Molecular Nanostructures at Columbia University. Nano-robots are incredibly diverse in appearance—usually because they have differing tasks. These robots can be controlled in a variety of ways: temperature differences, ultrasonic signals, magnetic fields, X-rays, and microwaves. Some robots engineer lighter and more resilient materials and more importantly, fix damaged cells and eliminate sick ones. This is the most important aspect of nano-robotics—being able to fix cells the body cannot fix itself. Additionally, nano-robots can engineer lighter, stronger materials due to their ability to manipulate existing substances, taking the advantages of other materials and combining them into one new material. For instance, nano-robots can engineer metals to bond together with hollow bonds, creating a near weightless metal. In short, this is just a brief introduction  introduction to the scope and capability of this emerging technology. Who knows what this tech will bring in the future?

Works Cited

Boyson, Earl. “Nanotechnology Research Labs.”,   Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.

Dixit, Prahkar. “An Essay on Nanorobotics – The Future of Medical Sciences.”, 7 July 2013,

an-essay-on-nanorobotics-the-future-of-medical-sciences/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “Examples of Nanoscale.”, 13 Mar. 2017,

examples-of-nanoscale-608575. Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.

Nano Technology Initiative. “Nano Technology Timeline.”, Accessed 15 Feb. 2018.


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One Comment

  1. Wow this is so cool!