An aerosol spray loaded with nanobots

“[The circuits] can’t exist without a substrate,” said the study’s lead author Michael Strano in a news release. “We need to graft them to the particles to give them mechanical rigidity and to make them large enough to get entrained in the flow.”

A previously unexplored property of two-dimensional electronic materials is their ability to graft electronic functionality onto colloidal particles to access local hydrodynamics in fluids to impart mobility and enter spaces inaccessible to larger electronic systems. Here, we demonstrate the design and fabrication of fully autonomous state machines built onto SU-8 particles powered by a two-dimensional material-based photodiode. The onboard circuit connects a chemiresistor circuit element and a memristor element, enabling the detection and storage of information after aerosolization, hydrodynamic propulsion to targets over 0.6 m away, and large-area surface sensing of triethylamine, ammonia and aerosolized soot in inaccessible locations. An incorporated retroreflector design allows for facile position location using laser-scanning optical detection. Such state machines may find widespread application as probes in confined environments, such as the human digestive tract, oil and gas conduits, chemical and biosynthetic reactors, and autonomous environmental sensors.

Source: Nature