Danes Forge Nanotools

A robotic hand can pick up, move, and solder nanometer-scale components

2 min read

Peter Bøggild is making a toolbox—one with very small tools. As leader of the Nanohand project at Mikroelektronik Centret (MIC) in the Technical University of Denmark (Lyngby), he has directed the construction of a pair of tweezers that can pick up and move nanoparticles and a soldering device that can fasten them to just about anything. ”[It’s] similar to the tools used in making electronics in a workshop,” he says. The Nanohand could be used to build experimental nanometer-scale research devices, such as transistors made with semiconducting nanowires. But Bøggild’s goal is more fundamental. ”We’re taking the concept of the hand as a basic human tool” and shrinking it down, he says. ”We want to know how far it can go.”

Handy in a pinch: the Nanohand is a silicon set of tweezers for picking up nanometer-scale objects. Electrostatic forces caused by voltages at five electrodes open and close the tweezers. Gold extensions [inset] decrease the gap between the tips to just 100 nm, and gaps as small as 25 nm have been produced.

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A New Treatment for Arthritis: Vagus-Nerve Stimulation

Studies will soon show whether electroceuticals outperform pharmaceuticals

5 min read
A tablet computer, a smartphone, a grey belt with white stripes, a grey disc, and a small silver rectangle with a wire curled beside it.

Galvani’s system includes a nerve stimulator that attaches to the splenic nerve.

Galvani Bioelectronics

Monique Robroek once had such crippling arthritis that, even with the best available medications, she struggled to walk across a room. But thanks to an electronic implant fitted under her skin, she managed to wean herself off all her drugs and live pain-free for nearly a decade—until recently, when a viral illness made her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare up again.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

Robroek’s long remission is “very impressive” and rare among patients with RA, says her doctor Frieda Koopman, a rheumatologist at Amsterdam UMC, in the Netherlands. Robroek’s experience highlights the immense potential of so-called bioelectronic medicine, also known as electroceuticals, an emerging field of treatment for diseases that have traditionally been managed with pharmaceuticals alone.

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