World’s smallest propeller could be used for microscopic medicine

Scientists are working in their laboratories to create robots that are only nanometers – billionths of a meter – in length, small enough to maneuver inside the human body and possibly inside human cells. The impact of these miraculous microscopic machines on medicine can only be imagined, but there is no doubt that it will be significant.

One of the first steps in creating these robots is figuring out how to make them move. In a paper published in the June 2014 issue of ACS Nano, an Israeli and German team announced that they had succeeded in creating a tiny screw-shaped propeller that can move in a gel-like fluid, mimicking the environment inside a living organism.

Debora Schamel, Andrew G. Mark, John G. Gibbs, Cornelia Miksch, Konstantin I. Morozov, Alexander M. Leshansky, Peer Fischer. Nanopropellers and Their Actuation in Complex Viscoelastic Media. ACS Nano, 2014; 140624102214000 DOI: 10.1021/nn502360t

Tissue and biological fluids are complex viscoelastic media with a nanoporous macromolecular structure. Here, we demonstrate that helical nanopropellers can be controllably steered through such a biological gel. The screw-propellers have a filament diameter of about 70 nm and are smaller than previously reported nanopropellers as well as any swimming microorganism. We show that the nanoscrews will move through high-viscosity solutions with comparable velocities to that of larger micropropellers, even though they are so small that Brownian forces suppress their actuation in pure water. When actuated in viscoelastic hyaluronan gels, the nanopropellers appear to have a significant advantage, as they are of the same size range as the gel’s mesh size. Whereas larger helices will show very low or negligible propulsion in hyaluronan solutions, the nanoscrews actually display significantly enhanced propulsion velocities that exceed the highest measured speeds in Newtonian fluids. The nanopropellers are not only promising for applications in the extracellular environment but small enough to be taken up by cells.

Magnetoelectric-controlled machines have overcome major hurdles - “Findings could one day revolutionise medicine”

Micro and nanorobots that attack tumors with maximum precision using drugs: this is what the fight against cancer may look like in the future. A group of ETH researchers led by Salvador Pané are laying the foundations with magnetoelectric-controlled Janus machines.

Salvador Pané was on a trolleybus in Zurich one day after work. He was deep in thought when the bus came to a sudden stop because the cable was disrupted.


Ref: Magnetoelectric micromachines with wirelessly controlled navigation and functionality. Materials Horizons (8 December 2015) | DOI: 10.1039/C5MH00259A


The use of a single energy source for both manipulating micromachines and triggering their functionalities will result in highly integrated devices and simplify the design of the controlling platform. Here, we demonstrate this concept employing magnetoelectric Janus particle-based micromachines, which are fabricated by coating SiO2 microspheres with a CoFe2O4–BaTiO3 bilayer composite. While the inner magnetic CoFe2O4 layer enables the micromachines to be maneuvered using low magnitude rotating magnetic fields, the magnetoelectric bilayer composite provides the ability to remotely generate electric charges upon the application of a time-varying magnetic field. To demonstrate the capabilities of these micromachines, noble metals such as Au, Ag and Pt are magnetoelectrochemically reduced from their corresponding precursor salts and form nanoparticles on the surface of the micromachines. Magnetoelectric micromachines are promising devices for their use as metal scavengers, cell stimulators and electric field-assisted drug delivery agents.


Pierre Matter

Unique pieces

Sculpture materials: metal (copper, bronze, brass, steel, stainless steel), wood. Assembly: welding, rivets, screws. Metal shapping: hammering, rolling, cold rolling.

It took me a long time to realize that technology has invaded even the tiniest cracks of our existence. The way I blend cogs, pistons, integrated circuits and other accessories of the industrial world into beings, bodies or faces, my sculptures, directly follows from the way human life has evolved in recent times. Of course, we are only at the beginning of an era where the use of machines or micromachines embedded within living beings may well become widespread, but it is already the case that modern life is completely unthinkable without technology.

The blending of man with machine (cyborg, cyber organisms) seems already taken for granted. Until now, we have managed to evolve at the same rate as technological innovation: the rhythm of the 19th and 20th centuries was slow enough to allow man time to adapt. However, in the last few decades the acceleration of discovery became  exponential. Biomechanic, biotechnology,  hybridation, clone, roboters are  now banal and common concepts. Along with the advent of computers, networks and interconnection, it  has become very noticeable, and to such an extent that we feel more and more often out of our depth.



  • Apartment, office and car keys on Son of a Sailor Tango Key Fob
  • Handmade pipe from Splitbeard Pipes (with tamper key and pipe pouch)
  • DIY (empty) cigar carrier with matches and stainless steel cutter
  • NASA ID badge holder (upside-down for security reasons)
  • Tide To-Go pen
  • MicroMachines “Rancor Pit Skywalker” used as Geocache trinket while traveling
  • 8GB Thumb Drive
  • Inhaler (see pipe and cigar accessories)
  • Timex Weekender watch with Horween Chromexcel watch strap.

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90s Toy Collection Volume 3.

Let’s lament over all the toys we can no longer buy this Christmas.
There’s Pokeballs, Game Genie, Micromachines, Biker Mice from Mars… that was a thing, Cherry Merry Muffin.