'NanoManipulator' allows nanoscale touch & feel

from the physical-chemistry-like-tinker-toys dept.
Bryan Hall writes "According to an article on MSNBC.com physicists in North Carolina have a system that can be used rapidly create nano-level experiments. The equipment uses virtual reality technology and a microscopic probe that allow scientists to touch and feel tiny particles. The nanoManipulator team has learned many of the physical rules that govern the movement of nano-sized objects. For example, with small particles, gravity doesnít matter, but physics rules for full-sized objects about friction and stickiness make a great deal of difference. The physicists have also been studying nanotubes in detail. Sometimes they lay out the nanotubes like a game of pick up sticks and push them around with a probe to see how well they roll and bend. The group has learned that rows of atoms in the nanotubes can be made to work like gear teeth. Scientist Sean Washburn says, "The nanoManipulator reduces physical chemistry into a game of tinker toys.""

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