Monday, September 6, 2010

Nanobots Are Coming! Nanobots Are Here!

Fictional Nanobot
Nanobots are fictional nanometer sized robots that Sci-Fi writers have been putting to work healing people or taking over the galaxy.

There have been different kinds of nanobot projects built. Most have been little robots the size of flies.

Fictional illustration of the Oxford nanobots. This illustration
does not indicate that the nanobots crawl along DNA.
An exception is Turberfield at Oxford who has been trying to make motors of DNA, which sounds ambitious.

At left is a drawing of a two legged nanobot.  The real nanobot is made of DNA, and it only crawls on a strand of DNA. The nice thing about this nanobot, is that it is truly nano.

Another way of making a nanobot is to start with a bacteria. The advantage is that it could reproduce itself, and you could add functions from the library of genes already available. Sylvian Martel at Ecole Polytechique in Montreal wants to make a robot they could inject with a catheter, and then guide with magnets to a tumor, and then the robot would deliver a toxic payload. This bacteria has an organelle that orients the bacteria with a magnetic field, and the gene for this was moved in from another kind of bacteria.

This video shows the nanobots moving nano-blocks into a pyramid shape:

Nanobots are a field where writers and visionaries are far ahead of practitioners. Self-replicating nano-bots that are mechanical and not biological, seem years and years away.