Monolithic comb drive nanomachine created

Aug. 21, 2008 at 2:16 PM
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Aug. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have created a nanoscale motorized positioning device that may have applications in biological and engineering fields.

Designed by Purdue University Assistant Professor Jason Clark, the device, called a monolithic comb drive, might be used as a "nanoscale manipulator" that precisely moves or senses movement and forces.

Clark said monolithic comb drives could make it possible to improve a class of probe-based sensors that detect viruses and biological molecules. The sensors detect objects using two different components: A probe is moved at the same time the platform holding the specimen is positioned. The new technology would replace both components with a single one.

Researchers said the new nanomachines could allow sensors to work faster and at higher resolution, while being small enough to fit on a microchip. They might also be used to fabricate or assemble miniature micro or other nanoscale machines.

The research was detailed in a technical paper presented last month during the University Government Industry Micro/Nano Symposium in Louisville, Ky.

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