Newly-developed nanomachines can autonomously repair broken circuits,

circuit repair nanobot
We’ve always assumed that robots derive their marching orders from us humans and our programming skills, but sometimes, we’re just unnecessary. Such is the case, at least, with the minuscule autonomous robots that are now being implemented to repair broken circuits too microscopic for the naked human eye to see. Abiding by the rules of Mother Nature, these nanobots act at the whims of their environment, and now, scientists are indirectly leveraging that obedience to our human advantage.

Built by Joseph Wang of the University of California at San Diego and Anna Balazs of the University of Pittsburgh, the two scientists looked to our own biology in order to develop these mini bots. Hoping to create machines that work much like our blood platelets (which immediately rush to the site of a cut to begin healing the wound), the team took gold and platinum Janus particles and poured them into a hydrogen peroxide solution. Once this happens, the reaction between the platinum and hydrogen peroxide causes oxygen to be released so quickly that it essentially shoots the nanobots forward with jet-like propulsion.

This process sends the little robots into desired locations, where the gold particles are able to effectively “heal” cracks in electrical wiring.


To test their new invention, Wang and Balazs poured the hydrogen peroxide solution (containing the mini robots) onto a broken circuit. The root of the problem was a tiny scratch less than a tenth the width of a human hair that prevented a battery from turning on an LED light. Once the nanobots were sent into battle, the scientists found that when they turned the battery on, the light was working again.

While humans didn’t directly fix the circuit in this case, Quartz notes that this was no random accident, either. Rather, “Wang and Balazs think that the scratch created differences in the surface energies that the gold-side of the nanobots could ‘sense.’ These energy differences (created by changes in the molecular forces) drove the nanobots to the broken circuit and the geometry of the gap trapped them there.”

The implications behind such a discovery are extensive, as scientists can now look for ways in which nature can power little robots, rather than relying on code to do the job. So don’t think that your only exposure to automatons will be through computer science. You could even major in chemistry and find yourself controlling some of these little guys.

Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.

Hotel bots, Autonomous hotels, Brainscans, Comedians, A robot named Marty

On today's podcast we're joined by comedians Jeremiah Coughlan and Tyler Boeh! We'll take a look at the use of 'future technology' that is is about to be deployed soon. From automobiles, to grocery store assistants, to a japanese hotel that…
Emerging Tech

How long is a day on Saturn? Scientists finally have an answer

The length of Saturn's day has always been a challenge to calculate because of the planet's non-solid surface and magnetic field. But now scientists have tracked vibrations in the rings to pin down a final answer.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Dinosaurs never stood a chance after asteroid impacts doubled 290M years ago

The number of asteroids pummeling Earth jumped dramatically around 290 million years ago. By looking at Moon craters, scientists discovered that d the number of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon increased by two to three times.
Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.