Extremely small machines, made with single atoms as their moveable parts, are being developed for many purposes. Perhaps the most exciting direction this technology is growing in is that of medicine. A new mechanical molecule has recently been created which is capable of drilling into and killing cancer cells within three minutes.
Activated by light, a nano-chain of linked atoms is spun around its central molecule extremely quickly. This makes a drill or saw mechanism which slices through the membranes of the target cells. These tiny molecules are hoped to be able to target a number of cancer cells to either destroy or deliver medicine.
Several barriers were crossed in the development of these nano-machines, overcoming Brownian motion was one hurdle that was achieved by rotating the atom chains at several million times per second. Once the molecule has found the cell it is designed to operate on, it sits there harmlessly until activated with a ray of ultra-violet light.
Clinical trials in human beings are intended to begin once the research has been completed on micro-organisms, followed by rodents. This is the first time in history that nano-machines have been successfully used in a medical context, and the doors are open for many more applications to emerge with each new understanding.
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