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Nevada
01-17-2005, 05:48 PM
this is cool



The robot is a dramatic example of the marriage of biotechnology with nanotechnology
Tiny robots powered by living muscle have been created by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The devices were formed by "growing" rat cells on microscopic silicon chips, the researchers report in the journal Nature Materials.

Less than a millimetre long, the miniscule robots can move themselves without any external source of power.

The work is a dramatic example of the marriage of biotechnology with the tiny world of nanotechnology.

In nanotechnology, researchers often turn to the natural world for inspiration.

But Professor Carlo Montemagno, of the University of California, Los Angeles, turns to nature not for ideas, but for actual starting materials.

In the past he has made rotary nano-motors out of genetically engineered proteins. Now he has grown muscle tissue onto tiny robotic skeletons.

Living device

Montemano's team used rat heart cells to create a tiny device that moves on its own when the cells contract. A second device looks like a minute pair of frog legs.

"The bones that we're using are either a plastic or they're silicon based," he said. "So we make these really fine structures that mechanically have hinges that allow them to move and bend.

"And then by nano-scale manipulation of the surface chemistry, the muscle cells get the cues to say, 'Oh! I want to attach at this point and not to attach at another point'. And so the cells assemble, then they undergo a change, so that they actually form a muscle.

"Now you have a device that has a skeleton and muscles on it to allow it to move."

Under a microscope, you can see the tiny, two-footed "bio-bots" crawl around.

Professor Montemagno says muscles like these could be used in a host of microscopic devices - even to drive miniature electrical generators to power computer chips.

But when biological cells become attached to silicon - are they alive?

"They're absolutely alive," Professor Montemagno told BBC News. "I mean the cells actually grow, multiply and assemble - they form the structure themselves. So the device is alive."

The notion is likely to disturb many who already have concerns about nanotechnology.

But for Carlo Montemagno, a professor of engineering, it makes sense to match the solutions that nature has already found through billions of years of evolution to the newest challenges in technology.

Jeannie Fitzgerald
01-17-2005, 06:34 PM
If you think this is chilling, read Michael Critchon's "Prey."

Jessa
01-17-2005, 07:19 PM
This could open whole relms of possibilities. Very cool.

Mairi Ulfsdottir
01-17-2005, 07:34 PM
Ok, this creeps me out.
When will the protesters (and their lawyers) start screaming for "bio-bot" rights?
:shock:

webmistress
01-18-2005, 06:55 PM
Nanobots are cool in concept, but they scare the shit out of me. I did some research on them a while back - and the possibilty of them replicating out of control (like cancer cells do) is simply terrifying.

While I realize that the whole "grey goo" scenario is unlikely, its still awfully creepy. (And for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_goo )

Jeannie Fitzgerald
01-18-2005, 07:49 PM
Nanobots are cool in concept, but they scare the shit out of me. I did some research on them a while back - and the possibilty of them replicating out of control (like cancer cells do) is simply terrifying.

While I realize that the whole "grey goo" scenario is unlikely, its still awfully creepy. (And for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_goo )

Again, read Chrighton's "Prey."

Btw, what do you feed the wee buggers? Silicon soup?

webmistress
01-18-2005, 08:10 PM
[quote=webmistress]Again, read Chrighton's "Prey."

In all my copious free time, right? LOL
Last (non-tech) book I read was Davinci Code, about 2 years ago, and I only got to read that because I was stuck in an airport.

MaryDane
01-18-2005, 09:35 PM
Pure - D - Creepy!
Are we TRYING to piss off Mother Nature?

Dedeley
01-18-2005, 10:20 PM
We've been pissing off Mother Nature for a long time, haven't we? We just find new ways every once in awhile.

Jeannie Fitzgerald
01-19-2005, 10:43 AM
[quote=webmistress]Again, read Chrighton's "Prey."

In all my copious free time, right? LOL
Last (non-tech) book I read was Davinci Code, about 2 years ago, and I only got to read that because I was stuck in an airport.

The only time I get to read is while waiting for something, while eating, about 15 mimutes before crashing for the "night" (I sleep during the day), etc.