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Micro-particles self-assemble into spinning gears

Self-assembly is common in nature, and enables life to function, from healing damage to changing shape. Now, researchers have developed a new way to mimic self-assembly in the lab, coaxing specially designed microscopic objects into small, gear-like machines. The building blocks are self-powered microparticles that propel after being activated by light. The researchers specially designed them to autonomously sense light gradients and navigate in light patterns. The result is a controlled self-assembly of seven of the tiny building blocks into a spinning microgear -- a "machine made of machines."

Credit: National Science Foundation

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