Final score: Half-Pitchers 0.00000035, Red Brick Walls 0.000000022

Looks like the US has a lot to learn from European soccer dominance, even in the nanoscale world. ETH Zurich took home three top prizes in last weekend’s nanogram demonstration at the RoboCup games, placing first in all three skills tests — a goal-to-goal “2mm dash” (316ms), slalom around fixed polymer photoresist posts patterned onto the “field” (583ms), and ball handling drill (3 goals in 3 minutes). The event, part of the larger annual RoboCup games hosted by Georgia Tech and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), featured remote-controlled soccer “nanobots” (each ~250-300-microns in size) moving around with a 100-micron silicon dioxide disk “ball,” on a 3cmx3cm glass microchip divided into 16 2.5mm x 2.5mm playing fields. ETH Zurich’s nickel-and-gold entry topped other competitors from Simon Fraser U. in Canada, (polymer/metal), the US Naval Academy (silicon/chromium), and two entrants from Carnegie Mellon U. (silicon dioxide/aluminum, and a neodymium/iron/boride structure). Competitive fire aside, NIST hopes the nanobot soccer showcase proves feasibility and accessibility of fabricating MEMS devices. More bios on the nanobot participants are on the NIST Web site.


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