Nanorobotics is the emerging technology field that will create machines or robots with components that are at or close to the scale of a nanometre (10−9 meters). More specifically, nanorobotics refers to the nanotechnology engineering discipline of designing and building of machines or nanorobots, with devices ranging in size from 0.1–10 micrometres and constructed of nanoscale or molecular components.
Nanomachines are largely in the research and development phase, but some primitive molecular machines and nanomotors have been tested. An example is a sensor having a switch approximately 1.5 nanometers across, capable of counting specific molecules in a chemical sample. The first useful applications of nanomachines might be in nanomedicine. For example, biological machines could be used to identify and destroy cancer cells. Another potential application is the detection of toxic chemicals, and the measurement of their concentrations, in the environment. Rice University has demonstrated a single-molecule car developed by a chemical process and including buckyballs for wheels. It is actuated by controlling the environmental temperature and by positioning a scanning tunneling microscope tip.
Nanorobots: Future in dentistry
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