Computer-Controlled Bacteria Build a Miniature Pyramid
The trick was using a type of microbe known as magnetotactic bacteria.
These critters have little internal compasses, and will follow the pull of a magnetic field. By manipulating a magnetic field, the researchers tricked the bacteria into forming a giant, computer-controlled swarm. In one experiment, the researchers had the bacterial swarm assemble a small pyramid. In another, they directed bacteria through the blood stream of a rat, like in Innerspace.
If you’re wondering which ancient pyramid inspired the researchers -- and is shown in the video on the left bottom corner -- it’s the Djoser step pyramid, in Egypt, which the researcher note was "an important, initial milestone in the history of man-made structures."
Images and video: NanoRobotics Laboratory, École Polytechnique de Montréal
In the future, the researchers want to use the bacteria as a propulsion system for larger nanorobots that could deliver drugs, repair an organ, or assemble larger and more complex nanostructures.
But, as I mention with every video, don’t take my word for it when you can check it out for yourself! In the video below, you can actually watch the bacterial swarm assemble a tiny pyramid:
Video from: YouTube.com
Article from: PopSci.com