Scientists Build Smallest Ever Flying Structure In This Microchip With Wings

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Scientists Build Smallest Ever Flying Structure In This Microchip With Wings

Scientists in the United States have built the smallest ever flying machine ever invented, known as a 'microflier'.


The team at Northwestern University in Illinois have built the tiny device that is a small fraction of the size of a fingernail and looks almost like a speck of dust. Using ultra-miniaturized technology, the tiny machine flies like a helicopter using tiny rotor blades.


Amazingly, the machine can be fitted with sensors, power sources, antennas for wireless communication, and computerised data storage.


John A. Rogers, who led the team of inventors, told science alert:


"Our goal was to add winged flight to small-scale electronic systems, with the idea that these capabilities would allow us to distribute highly functional, miniaturized electronic devices to sense the environment for contamination monitoring, population surveillance or disease tracking. We think that we beat nature. At least in the narrow sense that we have been able to build structures that fall with more stable trajectories and at slower terminal velocities than equivalent seeds that you would see from plants or trees."


He added:


"We also were able to build these helicopter flying structures at sizes much smaller than those found in nature. Efficient methods for recovery and disposal must be carefully considered. One solution that bypasses these issues exploits devices constructed from materials that naturally resorb into the environment via a chemical reaction and/or physical disintegration to benign end products… We fabricate such physically transient electronics systems using degradable polymers, compostable conductors and dissolvable integrated circuit chips that naturally vanish into environmentally benign end products when exposed to water. We recognize that recovery of large collections of microfliers might be difficult. To address this concern, these environmentally resorbable versions dissolve naturally and harmlessly."


The team believes that these devices could be used in large groups to carry out important work such as cleaning up oil spills (much like nanotechnology) and track environmental and pollution patterns.


Many believe however that such devices will be of great interest to militaries around the world, who may try and use them as a tool of espionage or war.



[h/t: science alert]


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Thinking Humanity: Scientists Build Smallest Ever Flying Structure In This Microchip With Wings
Scientists Build Smallest Ever Flying Structure In This Microchip With Wings
Scientists in the United States have built the smallest ever flying machine ever invented, known as a 'microflier'. The team at Northwestern Universi
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