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What are microbots and what are their possible uses? (Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology)

The devices, about the size of a cell, promise to be useful in diverse fields. These robots are the size of a speck of dust. Thousands fit side by side on a single silicon wafer similar to those used for computer chips, and, they pull themselves free and start crawling.

Uses of microbots
Microbots are about the size of a cell. They could crawl into cellphone batteries and clean and rejuvenate them. They might be a boon to neural scientists, burrowing into the brain to measure nerve signals. Millions of them in a petri dish could be used to test ideas in networking and communications.

Technology behind microbots
The new robots take advantage of the same basic technology as computer chips.

Scientists developed a technique to put layers of platinum and titanium on a silicon wafer.

When an electrical voltage is applied, the platinum contracts while the titanium remains rigid, and the flat surface bends. The bending became the motor that moves the limbs of the robots, each about 100 atoms thick.

(Adapted From The Hindu)



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