Star Trek: Voyager celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and the show is still inspiring fans, including some Dutch physicists who have recreated what is certainly the smallest ever model of the USS Voyager.
Voyager gets small… really small
Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands have been working on artificial “microswimmers,” which are objects comparable in size to bacteria and typically 1–10 µm, that can propel themselves through liquids. Most work on microswimmers has been spherical objects, but the Leiden physicists have been using a new Nanoscribe Photonic Professional printer to create more complex objects.
In a paper titled “Catalytically propelled 3D printed colloidal microswimmers” published last month in the journal Soft Matter, the team showed off their latest efforts, which included a tiny Intrepid-class starship.
These microswimmers can propel themselves through liquid using chemical reactions, with their platinum coating reacting to a hydrogen peroxide solution. So this tiny little USS Voyager can actually fly—well… swim, if you want to get technical.
In an email to TrekMovie physicist Jonas Hoecht explains why he chose to create this micro USS Voyager:
Observing catalytically propelled swimmers under the microscope reminded me a bit of watching Star Trek: the swimmers seemed to explore the microscale like starships explore outer space!
So we thought: why not let the microswimmers look even more like starships to make the analogy perfect? Due to our 3d printing approach, we had the flexibility to realize this idea.
Researchers hope that microswimmers can be developed that can perform complex behaviors that can be used in a number of practical applications, including drug treatments. Maybe someday a little starship will be flying around your bloodstream saving your life.
(h/t PC Gamer)
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