Microrobotic Ballet

Duke computer science professor and colleagues’ creations dance on something smaller than a pin’s head. Microscopic robots crafted to maneuver separately without any obvious guidance are now assembling into self-organized structures after years of continuing research led by a Duke University computer scientist.”It’s marvelous to be able to do assembly and control at this fine a resolution with such very, very tiny things,” said Bruce Donald, a Duke professor of computer science and biochemistry.

Each microrobot is shaped something like a spatula but with dimensions measuring just microns, or millionths of a meter. They are almost 100 times smaller than any previous robotic designs of their kind and weigh even less, Donald added.