Tuesday, June 27, 2006

US Patent 7066513 - Nanotweezers With Voltage Release


Many people are familiar with nanotechnology from the popularization of replicating "nanorobots" advanced by futurists such as Eric Drexler and other science-fiction writers. However, most of the ideas associated with Drexler do not really match up with reality. One of the main problems is that "nanorobots" and a mechanical replication system, as imagined by Drexler, for reproducing "nanorobots" is limited by the sticking factor of chemicals. While a device is conceivable for mechanically "picking up" individual molecules (this has in fact been done with scanning probe microscopes) it is considerably more difficult to "let go" of the molecule when it is placed in a desired position. Nanotweezers are one device developed by Daiken Chemical of Japan that actually attempts the mechanical synthesis approach. In order to solve the stickiness problem they use electrostatic repulsion to release molecules. Claim 1 reads:

1. An operation method of nanotweezers that are comprised of two or more nanotubes which are fastened at base end portions thereof to a holder and hold and release a nanoscale material by way of opening and closing tip end portions thereof, said method comprising the steps of: confirming a position of said nanoscale material by way of imaging a surface of a specimen by a scanning type probe microscope; moving said nanotweezers to a position over said nanoscale material; descending said nanotweezers which are in an opened state and then closing said nanotweezers so as to hold said nanoscale material; raising said nanotweezers that hold said nanoscale material and then moving said nanotweezers to an objective position; and descending said nanotweezers that hold said nanoscale material and then opening said nanotweezers so as to release said nanoscale material on said objective position which is on said surface of said specimen; wherein a voltage is applied between said nanotweezers and said specimen when said nanotweezers are opened so as to release said nanoscale material.