A University of California, Berkeley (www.berkeley.edu) team, headed by physics professor Alex Zetti, has built a 500 nm electric motor—the world's smallest—from carbon nanotubes and silicon. The motor is the first device that allows external wires and a rotor. In this case, the rotor is between 100 to 300 nm long, while the carbon nanotube shaft to which it is attached is only a few atoms across, perhaps 5 to 10 nm, the team says. Applications might include optical switching, or the spinning rotor could be used to mix liquids in microfluidic devices, the team adds.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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