Glowing nanobots map microscopic surfaces

March 1, 2002 | Source: Nature Science Update

Molecular robots used to explore a surface’s terrain can produce maps of microscopic structures and devices with higher resolutions than those produced by conventional microscopes, research shows.
University of Washington researchers modified microtubules by fixing kinesin molecules (which normally move materials around cells along microtubule pathways) on a surface, causing the microtubules to propel themselves randomly on the surface.

By attaching a fluorescent dye to the microtubules, the researchers can follow their paths.

Microtubule nanobots can penetrate holes, cavities and pores to reach places that cannot be seen by viewing a microscope and can see features that are less than 50 nanometers.

The nanobots could also be designed to investigate specific aspects of a surface, such as regions that are attractive or repulsive to water.