Cell-size robot made of electronic circuits coupled to minute particles could flow through intestines or pipelines to detect problems
Researchers at MIT have created the human egg cell size robots that can sense their environment, store data and even carry out computational tasks. These devices consist of tiny electronic circuits made of two-dimensional materials, piggybacking on minuscule particles called colloids.
Tiny robot can be made to travel anywhere to detect the problem
By coupling the tiny gadget with complex circuitry, the researchers laid the groundwork of dispersing it to carry out diagnostic journeys through anything from the human digestive system to oil and gas pipelines.
It is also expected to waft through the air to measure compounds inside a chemical processor or refinery. Such device could be a boon for the oil and gas industry as it can be an alternative to expensive instruments used for detecting leakage in pipelines.
It could be inserted into one end of the pipeline, carried along with the flow, and then removed at the other end. Hence, providing a record of the conditions it encountered along the way including the presence of contaminants that could indicate the location of problem areas.
Similarly, It can potentially be used for diagnostic purposes in the body, for example, to pass through the digestive tract searching for signs of inflammation or other disease indicators.
Little robots are self-powered
Interestingly, these little robots are self-powered, requiring no external power source or even internal batteries. A simple photodiode provides the trickle of electricity that the circuits required to power their computation and memory circuits. Thus, can sense information about their environment, store those data in their memory and then have the ability to read out the data after accomplishing the mission.
They can then be interrogated through probes to deliver the data. In ongoing work, the team hopes to add communications capabilities to allow the particles to deliver the data without the need for physical contact. Well, it is seen as the introduction of the new field in robotics.