Microbots and Their Gift to Our Society

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Article courtesy of Sara Jerome | May 19th, 2016 | Water Online | Shared as educational material.

Photo Credit: Water Online

Recently, researchers from three nations–Germany, Singapore, and Spain–had published a report on some particular findings in the journal Nano Letters. The findings discussed the creation of “microbots” that have the capability to remove heavy metals and other contaminants of the sort from polluted water. The microbots, as experiments have suggested, are extremely efficient in what they do. When put in a water source contaminated with lead, they were able to reduce the pollution levels from thousand parts per billion to under fifty parts per billion in a matter of sixty minutes. What’s more, both the metal collected and the microbots can be recycled for further use.

A microbot is self-propelled and tinier than a human hair. According to Phys.org, it’s structure is made up multiple layers of graphene oxide, platinum, and nickel, all providing for different functions. The inner layer of platinum works as the engine, decomposing hydrogen peroxide fuel, while the outer layer of graphene captures heavy metals as the microbot flows by. The middle layer of nickel allows for the microbot’s magnetic control.

Many praise the microbots for being a remediation system that can get the work done without leaving behind any contaminants of its own. In fact, some suggest that the development of these microbots is an astounding industrial and environmental success as heavy metal pollution is on the watchlist for many companies and environmentalists. There are multiple companies who have, and continue to, contaminate water sources that are often used for drinking with poisonous chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. Ultimately, this affects both aquatic organisms and the humans that depend on the water.

Microbots could have a wider application than environmental safety. Already, scientists and researchers are looking for ways to use them in the medical, manufacturing, and business fields. Read more about it here.

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