New fuel-less micromotors are so tiny, thousands of them would fit inside this “o”.
New micromotors and even microrockets have been detailed at a meeting of the American Chemical Society this week. The tiny motors don’t need to carry any external power, instead relying on their surroundings as an energy source.
Joseph Wang, D.Sc., who leads research on the motors, says “We have developed the first self-propelled micromotors and microrockets that use the surrounding natural environment as a source of fuel. The stomach, for instance, has a strongly acid environment that helps digest food. Some of our microrockets use that acid as fuel, producing bubbles of hydrogen gas for thrust and propulsion. The use of biocompatible fuels is attractive for avoiding damage to healthy tissue in the body. We envision that these machines could someday perform microsurgery, clean clogged arteries or transport drugs to the right place in the body. But there are also possible uses in cleaning up oil spills, monitoring industrial processes and in national security.”
One of their micromotors is one of the world’s fastest, able to move 100 times its 0.0004-inch length in just one second. That’s like a sprinter running 400 miles per hour.