The microtabuleiro chess can be seen in the central part of the image on the left side of the portion highlighted in yellow, which shows all the necessary equipment to move the game pieces. The table contains any number of other micromachines. [Photo: Sandia National Laboratories]
The smallest chessboard of the world, with a diameter equal to four strands of human hair, and a microbarbearia, the size of a pea, but designed to cut a single hair.
These were the winners of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the smallest functional machines that can be built with nanotechnology. The competition was held at Sandia National Laboratories, USA.
The microtabuleiro chess, created by students at Texas Tech University, comes with micro parts on which are engraved the figures of chess. Each piece is equipped with protrusions, which allow a microrrobótico arm can move them from one house to another.
There is still a space along the sides of the pan to hold the captured pieces, also carried there by the arm microrrobotico.
The micro chess board measuring 435 by 435 micrometers in diameter – a typical human hair is about 100 micrometers in diameter. Each chess piece measures 50 microns, or half the width of human hair.
The board contains bidirectional linear motors, which allow the movement of parts along and positioning mechanism with two degrees of freedom – note the figure, top right of the board.
The microbarbearia was designed to take care of a single hair. The environment contains a microgarra to hold the hair, a cutter, a movable mirror and a dryer, all functional. [Image: Sandia National Laboratories]
The microbarbearia was designed by students at the University of Utah to take care of a single hair. The environment contains a microgarra to hold the hair, a cutter, a movable mirror and a dryer, all functional.
“Our unit is so small that a single drop of fog can hang scissors and stop any device,” said Ian Harvey, professor of mechanical engineering who led the construction of the micromachine.
During the competition, all participants had to put their equipment to function. The presentation was followed up on an overhead screen showing the images captured by a microscope.
Micromachines in practice
Despite the curious machinery, the goal of the contest is to give researchers an opportunity to upgrade the equipment used to manufacture them.
Devices of these dimensions are already used to study cells and manipulate nanoparticles in the laboratory, as already fitted high-tech medical equipment and even personal devices like the iPhone