Think your apartment’s tiny? This micro-house is no wider than three human hairs

nanoscale house model maison finie74

Remember the brilliant scene in Zoolander where the lovably dimwitted Derek looks at a scale model of a proposed school and rages, “What is this? A center for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can’t even fit inside the building?” We’d hate to see Zoolander’s reaction to a new building created by researchers from the Femto-ST Institute in Besançon, France. Forget about being too small for children to fit inside; this scale model is too tiny for most kids to even see.

Created as a demonstration of a brand-new nanorobotic system, the appropriately-named “micro-house” measures just 300 x 300 micrometers, the measurement used to describe one one-millionth of a meter. To put that in perspective, a human hair is about 100 micrometers in diameter. The nanoscale house is tiny enough that it can sit on one end of an optical fiber.

“We chose a micro-house made with an optical fiber and a silica membrane because these are the materials we use in our institute for our research,” Jean-Yves Rauch, one of the researchers on the project, told Digital Trends. “Before the house, we assembled and installed at the end of cleaved optical fibers, other elements — such as silica mirrors, filters, or lithium niobate photonic crystals — but these are military applications and we are not allowed to show the images. So to represent the enormous potential of our µRobotex station, we chose to make a micro-house to demonstrate and popularize for the general public the potential of our vacuum assembly station with the robotic arm inside the chamber.”

nanoscale house model img 0266

Making the house involved a precisely robotically controlled ion gas and special gas injection chamber, guided by a dual beam scanning electron microscope. Using this technique, it was even possible to detail some “tiles” on the roof of the residence. In all, it’s an amazing demo of what is possible to achieve with nanoscale manufacturing — provided you’ve got a steady-handed robot to offer a bit of assistance, that is!

“We are at the beginning of the vacuum micro assembly adventure and we already know some potential applications,” Rauch continued. “Applications are mainly in the field of sensors: magnetic field sensors, optically searchable virus or bacteria sensors, [and] micro and nano sensors in gases or liquids.”

However, Rauch added that there are plenty of other applications that we don’t know yet and that will only play out as technologies such as this become more mature.

A paper describing the work was recently published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology.

Social Media

Facebook axes alleged discriminatory targeting of ads after civil settlements

Facebook advertisers can no longer use targeting for age, gender or zip code when advertising in the housing, jobs, and credit categories. The changes come as part of a civil settlement, following earlier changes to remove racial targeting.
Smart Home

Protect yourself: Here are some of the best home security systems

Looking for the best home security systems for your house? These systems offer the best mix of devices, smart features, monitoring services, and fees that you can afford (plus good customer service reports).
Deals

Amazon drops price of 65-inch Sony 4K Smart TV by $300 for March Madness

You can get a fantastic 65-inch Sony LED TV for $300 off right now, in what's best described as the perfect TV deal to lead you and your living room into this year's March Madness tournament.
Cars

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.