You know how thick is a strand of human hair? It ranges from 0.04 mm to 0.1 mm (40 to 100 micrometers). Super thin. What you see here is a 3D printed microswimmer modeled after Star Trek’s USS Voyager and it is smaller than a hair’s breath at just 15 micrometers.
The ability to 3D print such a minuscule object is mind-blowing enough, let alone one that has a length shorter than the thickness of a hair. Of course, they are not products of ordinary 3D printers.
Scientists over at Leiden University in Netherlands has developed to a method to print synthetic microswimmers. What’s even more amazing is, this and the rest of the similarly sized 3D printed objects can swim in liquid on their own. No power or whatsoever. Hence, the name microswimmers.
Microswimmers move through liquid just by interacting with their environment through chemical reactions. This helps researchers to understand biological microswimmers which could one day aid in developing new drug delivery vehicles. One possibility could be utilizing microbots to autonomously deliver drugs to a desire location in the human body.
The USS Voyager is just one of the few shapes the researchers have 3D printed. Also printed are a tug boat (yes, really!), helix, spiral, a trimer, and a spiky sphere. The different shapes allow the scientists to study how shapes can affect the motion of the micro devices.
Well, what can I say? That’s the magic of science. I can’t marvel enough how far technology have advanced. This brings me to a short rant. Mankind already know how to recreate microswimmers and yet, jet engines and grass cutters remain so damn bloody noisy. Just saying…
Images: Leiden University.
Source: boing boing.