Penn Engineering and Cornell Researchers Develop Laser-controlled, Cell-sized Robots

The researchers’ microscopic robots have strips of platinum only a few atoms thick that serve as legs. Shining a laser on a photovoltaic panel on the robot’s back provides voltage that causes one pair of legs to flex. Alternating between the panels allows the robot to crawl.

One of the researchers’ robot next to a paramecium.

Too small to see with the naked eye, this illustration shows the robot’s components: a circuitboard that serves as its torso and brain, platinum strips with rigid panels that serve as jointed legs, and photovoltaic panels that cause the legs to flex when hit with a laser.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

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