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Tiny Robots Get a Grip on Nanotubes

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Credit: iStockphoto

How do you handle the tiny components needed for constructing nanoscale devices? A European consortium has built two microrobotic demonstrators that can automatically pick up and install carbon nanotubes thousands of times thinner than a human hair.

Carbon nanotubes, rolled up sheets of carbon only a few tens of nanometers in diameter, could become an essential part of the nanotechnologist’s construction kit. But there is a problem: how can you handle objects that are so thin they cannot be seen at all with a normal optical microscope?

"The handling and characterization of these objects has become more and more important in materials science and nanotechnology," says Volkmar Eichhorn of the University of Oldenburg and its associated institute, OFFIS. "They have a huge application potential in various products."

One solution, developed by the EU-funded NanoHand project, is to use mobile microrobots equipped with delicate handling tools. NanoHand builds on the work of ROBOSEM, an earlier EU project that developed the basic technologies that are now being put into effect.

From ICT Results


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