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Home > News > Industry News > Colloidal robot goes with the .....

Colloidal robot goes with the flow

  • Author:Ella Cai
  • Release on:2018-07-27
MIT has found a way to get electronics into hard-to-access places, by flowing it in as a colloid.

Colloids, milk is one, are suspensions of particles in a liquid that never settle out.

“We wanted to figure out methods to graft complete, intact electronic circuits onto colloidal particles,” said MIT chemistry professor Michael Strano.


What the researchers created were state-machines 100μm across (four shown), thinned by removing their substrate.

Although not yet entirely clear, it appears that these are attached to flakes of epoxy along with a chemical sensor capable of detecting triethylamine and ammonia, a memristor memory and a power-generating photo-cell – the latter made from two-dimensional materials (graphene and transition-metal dichalcogenides were tried, but it is not clear what the final materials chosen were).

What has not been included so far is a clock to measure when sensing activity occurred.

Power from the photo-cell is “enough to let them sense information about their environment, store those data in their memory, and then later have the data read out after accomplishing their mission,” said MIT.

The particles are reflective, allowing them to be tracked by laser.

Such devices could ultimately be used for the oil and gas industry, said Strano, with particles flowed through pipelines to check for leaks or other issues.

The work is covered in ‘Colloidal nanoelectronic state machines based on 2D materials for aerosolizable electronics‘ in Nature Nanotechnology.

Electronics Weekly has requested more details.