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Nanodot engines - the future of medicine

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 16.05.2018
20 June 2016, 09:00

A real breakthrough in medicine can be provided by various nanoproducts and today there are already a number of such miniature devices, but an effective power source for such devices has not yet been developed. Scientists from Cambridge slightly filled the gaps in this area and introduced miniature motors that operate from an external light source.

The work of the nanodvier resembles the action of a spring, the engine itself consists of gold nanoparticles, which are held on a polymer gel-like substance that reacts to temperature fluctuations. When the substance is heated by a laser, active evaporation of moisture, the substance begins to contract (like a spring) - as a result, the nanodvier accumulates the energy of light and stores it. After switching off the light source - in this case the laser - the cooling of the substance begins and the active absorption of moisture begins. Accumulated energy is released as a result, and gold particles serve to increase the effect of the created force.

Compare the devices developed by Cambridge specialists with tiny submarines from the movie "Fantastic Journey" in which mini-boats traveled through the human body to remove the blood clot from the vessels, in addition, the nanodvigators are quite powerful in relation to their own weight and like ants are capable of to move large "loads".

The developers note that the expansion of the substance after switching off the light source is extremely fast, which can be compared with a microscopic explosion. This effect is brought about by certain forces that arise between the molecules of matter. Such forces have a fairly strong manifestation at the microscopic level, whereas under normal conditions they hardly manifest themselves. Specialists noted that it is these forces that help gecko lizards to climb on vertical surfaces, and also upside down - in this they are helped by billions of small hairs on the surface of the limbs.

As noted, the nanodvier accumulates the energy of light, most of which is converted into the energy of attraction between the gel molecules and the gold particles. When the energy of attraction is cut off, the force of liberation due to gold is several times greater, in comparison with the usual compression of the material. According to scientists, the disadvantage of the nanodvigator is that today energy is released simultaneously in all directions and now the efforts of the scientific group are aimed at finding a way that would help to direct the flow of energy in one, the right direction.

If scientists achieve their goal and can control the flow of released energy in nanodvigators, such devices are suitable for controlling nanobots delivering drugs to affected organs or sites, as well as for remotely controlled instruments that are used during microsurgical operations.

At the moment, a team of specialists from Cambridge develops on the basis of nanodvigators controlled pumps and valves for chips, which are used in biosensors and diagnostic equipment.

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