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Tiny microrobots are under development at Monash University
in Australia; a remarkable micromotor will allow them to swim
using a flagellar propeller, just like E. coli bacterium.
Dr. James Friend's goal is to build a device no wider than 250
microns - that's the width of two human hairs - that would be
capable of swimming through the human body.
He and his team have already built a linear motor the size of a
salt crystal. With a $300,000 grant from the Australian Research
Council, Dr. Friend believes that his team will be able to reduce
the motor to the necessary size within three years.
According to Dr. Friend, the main difference between the micro-
robot motor and a conventional electromagnetic type is that the
latter spins much faster but has much less torque.
Ultimately, tiny microrobots would give surgeons the ability to
avoid traumatic and risky procedures in some cases.
A remotely-controlled microrobot would extend a physician's
ability to diagnose and treat patients in a minimally invasive way.