Article courtesy of David Nield | April 12th, 2016 | Science Alert | Shared as educational material.
Marine pollution has been getting worse over the last few decades and is predicted to go up to even harsh degrees in the coming years. Contaminants such as plastics and heavy metals present an obstacle to both marine life and the humans who depend on them. However, an international team of researchers may have found a solution–new graphene-based nanobots. These underwater soldiers have been said to remove up to ninety-five percent of the lead in a water source within an hour. Nanobots are made to collect heavy metals using a magnetic field in hopes of cleaning up the ocean. Because of its effectiveness, nanotechnology is becoming utilized more against contaminants.
A nanobot 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. By combining all of these parts, the nanobot allows itself to be highly adaptable to the environment it will be working in. Many praise the microbots for being a remediation system that can get the work done without leaving behind any contaminants of its own.
Experts state that the development of the nanobot is proof that industry is moving in a way beneficial to water sources of the world, and hopefully will continue to do so. As of now, they are being controlled indirectly by a magnetic field created by engineers but soon enough, it is possible that these nanobots become completely autonomous and clean up the mess we have made in our waterways. Read more about this new technology and how it works here.