Scans: Nano Feelies

Jay Thomas (
Fri, 05 Dec 1997 16:12:45 +0000

Scans: Nano Feelies
by David Pescovitz

10:35am 2.Dec.97.PST
Have you ever felt up a Bucky ball? Scientists at
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
using their fingertips to push around carbon
nanotubes ("Bucky tubes"), dissect virus
and repair microwires one one-thousandth the
thickness of a human hair. The team's
nanoManipulator combines the haptic capabilities
of the Phantom, a 3-D force-feedback computer
interface developed at MIT, with real-time but
proportionately scaled-up information gleaned
a scanning-probe microscope. "The work we do is
like trying to move Jell-O with a screwdriver in
dark," says project director Russell Taylor. "The
nanoManipulator provides a virtual sandbox for
scientists, letting them see, touch, poke, and
specimens that are about a million times smaller
than they appear."

This article originally appeared in the December
issue of Wired magazine.

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