As nanotechnology makes possible a world of machines too tiny to see, researchers are finding ways to combine living organisms with nonliving machinery to solve a variety of problems. Like other first-generation bio-robots, this new nanobot is a far cry from Robocop. It’s a robotic germ. Researchers created an electromechanical device — a humidity sensor — on a bacterial spore. They call it NERD, for Nano-Electro-Robotic Device. When the humidity drops, the spore shrinks as water is pushed out. As it shrinks, the quantum dots come closer together, increasing their conductivity, as measured by the electrodes.
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