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Electronic Tweezers Grab Nanoparticles

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the much-cooler-than-using-regular-tweezers dept.

Science 13

MTorrice writes "A beam of electrons can pick up and carry nanoparticles, according to a new study (abstract). The so-called electronic tweezers could help scientists in diverse tasks, such as building up new materials nanoparticle-by-nanoparticle, and measuring the forces between nanoparticles and living cells, the researchers say. In the past, scientists have manipulated microsized particles, including single cells, using a beam of laser light called optical tweezers. But the force required to trap a particle with optical tweezers increases as the particle gets smaller, making grappling with nanoparticles difficult. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developed an alternative to optical tweezers by modifying a transmission electron microscope, which produces images by passing a stream of electrons through a sample." Reader Sven-Erik adds news of a tractor beam generated with laser light that can pull microscopic particles over distances of 30 micrometers (abstract).

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Are they zircon-encrusted? (1)

OldSport (2677879) | about 2 years ago | (#41709905)

And have they been sterilized with your lighter?

Re:Are they zircon-encrusted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41710735)

Why yes they have and I'm fairly sure they can make dinah moe hum

Real World Usage (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41709947)

I presume this research has Congressional approval, as the technology would finally provide politicians with an effective method of finding their own dicks.

Re:Real World Usage (4, Interesting)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41710401)

First they should use it to locate their conscience.

Re:Real World Usage (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41713103)

I', sorry, that will require a technology capable of manipulating object 3 to 5 orders of magnitude smaller. No, these tools should be just about right to manipulate the politician's brain or a lawyer sense of honesty.

Re:Real World Usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41710425)

My congressperson has a vagina.

But with more research she might use this technology to find her ethics.

How small can we make the equipment? (1)

mmell (832646) | about 2 years ago | (#41710099)

One of the problems facing nanobot designers is the "sticky fingers" problem. If a nanobot were able to pick up, say, a carbon atom it would be able to move it, but getting it to let go of the carbon atom afterwards is a non-trivial problem. The act of "picking up" the carbon atom makes the carbon atom part of the nanobot, in essence.

Then again, I doubt that this technology can be miniaturized enough to be used in this connection - but if it can, it would permit a nanobot to move an individual atom/molecule without actually making it part of the nanobot.

Re:How small can we make the equipment? (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41713109)

You want to create a reaction surface that can change its charge (i.e. stickiness) in the same way that hemoglobin can pick up oxygen or carbon dioxide in one place and release it in another. There should be all kinds of mechanisms including local ph that would allow you to perform the tasks you describe.

Electron laser (1)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41712205)

I always wonder if it is possible to make an electron laser: a device which spits out electrons all with the same phase and wavelength, like a normal laser does with photons. Is that possible? Why/why not?

Re:Electron laser (1)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#41713121)

In a word... YES [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Electron laser (1)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41713141)

That's not what I mean. A free electron laser still spits out photons. I mean a device that generates a beam of electrons, all with the same wavelength and phase.

Re:Electron laser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41715523)

Just start searching for "coherent electron beam" and there is work on it. Getting the spread in electron speeds to be small is really difficult to do, especially since they repel each other. So the coherence length is an important factor and might be kind of short. Coherent beams of photons and even atoms are a lot easier to do because they are neutral.

Electronic Tweezers... (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41712889)

I feel I must say that, "Electronic Tweezers" is a great name for a rock band.

Thank you.

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