Saturday, May 06, 2006

US Patent 7036769 - Micromechanical Flying Insect

Often I see micromechanical (MEMS) technologies lumped in together with nanotechology. However, there are some serious differences between the two fields. For one thing, nanotechnology is still in the testing and manufacturing stage of development and lacks a widespread toolset for mass production, whereas MEMS typically relies on many of the same fabrication principles used in IC manufacture and is thus suitable for mass production. Therefore, in the next 10-20 years it may be that MEMS, rather than nanotech. becomes a dominant driver of the economy.

Case in point -US 7036769 (published May 2, 2006)

This patent is an improvement on a drive assembly for a wing of a micromechanical flying insect. For all of the speculation about "nanorobots" in science fiction and by futurists there is really very little enabling technology to support such concepts. Microrobots, on the other hand, enabled by the above patent as well as a proliferation of recent patents on microbatteries, microsensors, microactuators, etc. appear to be well on the way to reality.