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Magnetic

Spermbots created at IFW Dresden approach an egg, and the microtube falls away (Image: IFW...

Hijacking sperm cells to create little robots might seem far out, but that's exactly what researchers from the Dresden Institute for Integrative Nanosciences have done. Their "spermbots" consist of live sperm cells in little tubes, that can be magnetically controlled to move in a desired direction until they reach their destination and do their job – they're currently robust enough to even guide a specific sperm cell to an egg cell. The scientists hope that further development will allow the technology to offer a viable alternative to parents trying to have a child through in-vitro fertilization. When perfected, the spermbots could also be used as a safe means for drug delivery and gene manipulation.  Read More

Managing magnetism on a nanoscale could provide a big boost for digital storage (Image: Sh...

An international team of scientists has made a breakthrough in the magnetic manipulation of nanoparticles that could lead to a big boost for small scale digital storage in portable devices.  Read More

Bioinspired magnetically propelled helical microswimmers could deliver drugs at the right ...

If you remember the 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, you'll recall how miniaturized government agents traveled through blood vessels in a tiny submarine, in their attempt remove a blood clot from a scientist's brain. Synthetic nanomotors that can do the same job have been the subject of numerous research efforts and now University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers report that they've created powerful biodegradable "microswimmers" that can deliver drugs more precisely, derived from common plants like passion fruit and wild banana.  Read More

The MAG furniture line (Photo: Benjamin Vermeulen)

Benjamin Vermeulen has designed a new range of flatpack furniture that simply snaps into place using magnets, no tools required.  Read More

The Swarm satellites being prepared for launch (Photo: ESA)

On Friday, ESA began a four-year mission to study the Earth’s magnetic field with the launch of the three-satellite Swarm constellation into Earth orbit. Packed “like sardines” in their fairing, the unmanned spacecraft lifted off at 12:02 GMT (1:02 PM CET) from the Plesetsk space port in northern Russia atop a Rockot launcher.  Read More

The tiny eCompass chip provides magnetometer and accelerometer capabilities (Image: STMicr...

STMicroelectronics has announced a new MEMS-based module that integrates a three-axis magnetometer, a three-axis accelerometer, A/D converters, and control logic on a 2 mm x 2 mm x 1 mm surface mount chip, reportedly making it the smallest electronic compass available today.  Read More

The MagPen contains a magnet which is detected by the phone's existing magnetometers

The humble smartphone stylus may soon be gaining new features, thanks to a seemingly simple piece of technology. Developed by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) PhD student Sungjae Hwang, the MagPen is essentially just a plastic tube covered in conductive tape, with conductive rubber tips at either end and a coin-shaped magnet inserted half-way down its length. Via a custom app, however, magnetometers already present in the phone are able to determine where that magnet is in relation to the screen, and respond with a variety of drawing and writing functions.  Read More

CAD model of the FluzCrawler robot inspecting a wire cable (Image: Fraunhofer IZFP)

The important task of inspecting cables on bridges, elevators, ski lifts and cable cars for signs of strain, wear and corrosion is commonly carried out by a device that clasps around the cable and exposes it to a magnetic field, looking for disruptions in the field. The problem is that the diameter of the cables and their jackets can vary considerably, limiting the use of such devices. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing have come up with a one-size-fits-all approach in the form of a robot they’ve dubbed the FluxCrawler.  Read More

New water-purifying synthetic nanoscavengers can be removed from water magnetically (Photo...

According to a joint World Health Organization/UNICEF report issued this week, an estimated 768 million people relied on unimproved drinking-water sources in 2011, with 185 million of these relying on surface water to meet their daily drinking-water needs. WHO and UNICEF have set a 2030 target for everyone to have access to a safe drinking-water supply and new water-purifying “nanoscavengers” developed by researchers at Stanford University could help achieve this goal.  Read More

A 300-micrometer microgripper at the opening of a cathether

When procuring tissue samples for medical diagnosis, doctors have been confined to bulky and invasive forceps. But with recent successful experiments in pigs, we may see doctors switching from the single forceps to hordes of a thousand "microgrippers." These metal discs, each only 300 micrometers in size, are designed to snip bits of tissue when introduced en masse into the body and then be easily retrieved by a doctor. Their small size, added to the fact that they need no batteries, tethers or wires, belies their complexity and autonomy in function, which could allow the microgrippers to provide diagnoses earlier, more easily, and with less trauma.  Read More

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