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Scientists ­se Light to Control Nanobots

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Light hitting a semiconductor nanowire.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have discerned how semiconductor nanoparticles interact with light within an electric field.

Credit: University of Texas at Austin/Science Advances

University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) researchers have discovered a physical phenomenon in how semiconductor nanoparticles interact with light when under the influence of an electric field.

They say this breakthrough could help scientists learn how to direct the motion of nanoscale machines that can perform mechanical functions.

The researchers found the strong interactions of light, semiconductor nanoparticles, and electric fields can enable the efficient reconfigurable operation of semiconductor nanomotors or nanodevices.

The team used optical microscopy to distinguish between semiconductor silicon and gold nanoparticles by observing their mechanical responses to light.

Said UT Austin's Donglei Fan, "Our device switches among multiple mechanical rotation modes in response to light intensity, which is instant and can be repeated many times."

From IEEE Spectrum
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