In Brief A new technique uses the curious physical laws of the nano-scale itself to “Program” nanobots.
Inspired by the autonomous nanobots that evolution has furnished the human body-such as blood platelets that automatically clot and repair cuts-the pair wondered if they couldn’t create self-healing circuitry using nanobots acting on similar principles.
To test their process, the researchers created a simple circuit between an LED light and a battery, and then broke the circuit with a tiny scratch. The Janus particles were dissolved into a solution of hydrogen peroxide, and poured onto the circuit. The importance of the hydrogen peroxide is that the platinum half of the particles react with it to produce oxygen, which propels the particles like mini-rockets.
The researchers believe that the nanoparticles, propelled by the chemical reaction, swarmed over the break, where the gold half of the nanobots naturally “Sensed” differing surface energies at the scratch, settled into the gap, and thereby repaired the circuit.
Imagine spray-on solutions to repair small and complicated circuits, computers, and other devices; better yet, think of all the medical applications, with nanobots that use the body’s chemistry to repair damaged tissues.