Tiny Tech #4: Nanoelectromechanical Systems

Today from the world of Tiny Tech:

In the 1966 movie “Fantastic Voyage”, Hollywood star Raquel Welch was part of a surgical team that was placed aboard a submarine, miniaturized to microscopic size, and injected into the bloodstream of a man.  The team’s mission was to remove a blood clot in the man’s brain … by operating on it from the inside of his body.  Science fiction?  Today, yes.  But tomorrow…?

In the future, such missions may be possible, but the surgeons won’t be people:  instead, they’ll probably be microscopic-sized and very smart robots made out of tiny computer chips. These robots may have small manipulators that can help the robot move and also enable it to carry out small surgical procedures.  They may also carry small amounts of medicines that can be delivered exactly to the needed spot. The devices that could make this possible are called nanoelectromechanical systems, and scientists and engineers are working to figure out how to make motors, pumps, and mechanical actuators that are smaller than a single human cell.  However, many challenges remain before it will be possible to use nanoelectromechanical devices in everyday technologies.

Oh, and Raquel Welch?  The team saved the patient and survived the voyage, which was no small achievement:  well actually … it was microscopic!

Tiny Tech is made possible by the National Science Foundation and WUFT.  To learn more about Tiny Tech, go to tinytechradio.org.

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