Technology Innovations LLC said that heat activated shape memory alloy (SMA) microactuators can be used to manipulate tiny 100 nano objects by using photon-beam heated.
The micro robots will be two microns wide by 10 microns long and will operate with scanning electron microscopes to allow visual control of the processes.
The devices could be used to make and control valves and stents, miniaturised manufacturing moulds, and to manipulate genetic components and proteins.
According to the firm, there are already working examples of the technology produced by Clements and TiNiAlloy.
The patent, 6,588,208, called "wireless technique for microactivation", is linked to assemblers of molecular size, first introduced by Eric Drexler in 1982. Assemblers are needed to grip collections of molecules and then to lift them, rotate them, and put them in a different evnvironment.
The patent application says: "In accordance with the embodiments described herein, SMA microactuators may be produced to provide the "muscles" of tiny robots that are fabricated by MEMS technology on silicon wafers. It will be further appreciated that such structures may be employed for fabricating other nanotechnology devices and elements, and particularly for moving a microscopic x-y stage. However, this invention is also applicable to nanotechnology where the nanoactuators are large molecules that are undergoing shape transformations as a result of interactions with focused beam energy such as photons, particle beams (such as electrons), or phonons (ultrasound)". µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ