Nanorobot fabrication makes ultrasmall sensors possible
How do you build an infrared (IR) camera that is small enough to fit on a mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) without cryogenic cooling? Call in the nanobots.
Researchers working with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have developed a way to build extremely small sensors using nanorobot fabrication. This new process, created by Harold Szu and James Buss of ONR and implemented by Xi Ning of Michigan State University, allows a human operator using a powerful microscope and hand-held controller to manipulate nano-sized contact points remotely--like using extremely small hands--to construct the pixel elements that will form the heart of the sensor. Each pixel will be composed of carbon nanotubes, which have nanoscale diameters and submicron lengths. Because of the one-dimensional nature of carbon nanotubes, they have significantly lower thermal noise than traditional semi-conductors. A full-sized camera incorporating this technology would be inexpensive and lightweight--about one tenth the cost, weight, and size of a conventional digital camera.
Colin Babb | EurekAlert!
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