As reflected by Moore's law, the semiconductor industry has observed a tremendous growth in microelectronics in the past 50 years.
The development of micro-circuitry and microprocessors has led to the recent surge of tiny electronic products. However, due to the lack of small actuators, scientists weren't successful in building microbots at the hundred micron scale (more or less the size of eukaryotic cells). In this context, an actuator is the moving component that receives control signals and creates a response.
Material and robotics researchers at Cornell University has developed a type of microscale actuator that's capable of locomotions in response to electronic stimuli through electrochemical reactions. These tiny "movers" can mimic walking motions with the minimal consumption of energy - they can be powered at 200 microvolts with an output of 10 nanowatts. Using a lithographic fabrication method, the research team managed to build millions of sub-hundred-micron microbots that are incorporated with the electrochemical actuators. Their study was the first of its kind to demonstrate the mass-production of the smallest robots the world has ever seen.
This research is published in the journal Nature.
Source: Nature Video via Youtube