These graphene-based nanobots suck up lead contamination to clean our oceans

lead eating ocean cleaning nanobots img njar 20160415 112712 imagenes lv otras fuentes nanotube fig

Imagine you’re a particle of lead, floating around the ocean, contaminating fish, and basically minding your own business. A dark cloud approaches amid a faint whirring sound. Within seconds hundreds of thousands of nanobots descend upon your neighborhood. Within an hour, 95 percent of your caustic friends have been captured, carried back to scientists, and packaged for recycling.

Now snap back to reality and realize that heavy metal pollution is a serious threat to our oceans. Industrial runoff and trashed electronics seep lead, mercury, and cadmium into the environment. Exposure to these pollutants inhibit marine life’s tissue reproduction and DNA repair, and can accumulate in the organism’s flesh. We in turn digest these contaminants when we fish our bounty from the sea and eat canned sardines. To keep our tuna free from toxins we’ve got to fix this mess.

That’s the goal of a project by scientists at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany; the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Barcelona; and the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies in Barcelona. The researches designed graphene oxide-based nanobots – smaller than a strand of hair – to target and collect heavy metal particles in wastewater, according to a paper published in the journal Nano Letters. 

The three-layered nanobots are a triple threat. Their graphene oxide exterior absorbs lead. Their nickel middle allows researchers to control their movement via a magnetic field. A coating of platinum on the inside functions as an engine allowing the nanobots to propel themselves forward in a chemical reaction with hydrogen peroxide that shoots bubbles out their backends. 

When the swarm of nanobots are finished sweeping through the wastewater (researchers say they can clear 95 percent of lead within an hour) a magnetic field calls them back and an acidic bath removes the absorbed lead ions. The mini lead can then be recycled. And the machines can also be put back to work. Though researchers have so far focused on absorbing lead, they hope to use similar three-layered designs, magnetic controls, and self-propulsion to collect other heavy metals.

Mobile

Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

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!
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.