August 29, 2008

Tiny Triumph is a Big Leap Forward

By John Ferguson

SCOTS scientists have found a way to make tiny devices 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

They believe the breakthrough could lead to the creation of nanobots - machines so small they could travel through cells and carry cancer-busting drugs into the human body.

Researchers at St Andrews University were able to build a layer of material just one molecule thick.

Team leader Dr Manfred Buck said the technique of building a surface by placing individual molecules could create strong, super- tiny structures for the first time.

He said: "The problem previously was that any created structures of this size were very fragile and would disintegrate very easily.

"But we have found a way to make very small structures which are very robust.

"We are at the beginning of the exploration of a very exciting new area.

"In the future, we might be able to use this technology for the assembly of nano-machines, molecular devices used to transport and manipulate molecules and nanometre-sized objects."

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