A few steps away from viable nanobots?
Currently one challenge in the use of nanobots has been the how to propel them along in the bloodstream. This new technique of propulsion may yeild the solution….
A nanotube fibre that twists like muscles in an elephant trunk has been discovered, which could one day propel nanobots
"We stumbled upon a type of material that produces a rotating action when we apply voltage to it," say Spinks.
"Through our investigations we’ve noted there are quite a few similarities in nature like elephants’ trunks and lizards’ tongues and even the flagella of bacteria."
About four years ago, team-members at the Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Texas, Dallas, started spinning a fine thread made entirely of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), tiny hollow cylinders of carbon, to make electrically-conductive smart textiles.
"They are looking at multifunctional textiles that could be a battery, an antenna or they might have antiballistic properties," says Spinks.
A team member Javad Foroughi was experimenting with small lengths of the CNT fibre and discovered the material rotates when a voltage is applied to it while it is immersed in an electrolyte.
"If we reverse the voltage it starts to rotate back in the other direction," says Spinks.
He says the material could be used in consumer products, such as zoom lenses in mobile phones.
But it could also help in the development of nanobots that deliver drugs, remove parasites and fight cancer, say the researchers.