The microrods consist of a transparent polymer disk with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers. The disk has built-in motors that work individually and are made of gold.
The authors were inspired by the design of conventional quadcopter drones, which have four independent rotors, allowing full control over the movement. If such a design is created, microdrones can interact with nano- and micro-objects, for example, to assemble nanostructures, to analyze surfaces with nanometer precision, or in the field of reproductive medicine.
The engines are based on optical antennas. These are tiny metal structures that are smaller than the wavelength of light. They are optimized to receive light with circular polarization. This allows the engines to receive light regardless of the orientation of the drone.
Xiaofei Wu, Hecht Research Group postdoc
Wu added that in the next step, the received light energy begins to radiate the engine in a certain direction. This helps create an optical recoil force.
As a result, the researchers were able to control their microdrones efficiently and accurately. Also, the devices themselves are small in mass, so they can accelerate very strongly.
In the next phase of work, the research team plans to refine the device so that they can control the height of the drones over the surface.
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