Nano-tool breakthrough enables ‘world’s smallest robots’
July 17, 2003 | Source: KurzweilAI
A new patented electron-beam “micro-robot” technology was announced today by Technology Innovations and Innovation On Demand, which have been issued U.S. Patent No. 6,588,208, “Wireless Technique for Microactivation.”
The breakthrough idea was to use focused beams of electron-beam or laser energy to wirelessly heat shape memory alloy (SMA) material. This bends when heated, causing movement. By eliminating bulky batteries and wires, microactuators can now be miniaturized down to the low-micron range — 50 times smaller than what’s feasible today, the companies claim.
That can “fill the huge gap between millimeter-size actuators at the high end and scanning-probe-microscope atomic manipulators at the low end, which are limited to moving individual atoms and small molecules slowly around,” said inventor Ken Clements, CEO of Innovation On Demand.
Uses include medical devices (like valves and stents), microsurgical instruments, miniaturized molds, and manipulation of proteins and genetic components.