Star Trek: Voyager is nearing its 25th birthday this year. The show is still captivating fans, including some physicists from the Netherlands who managed to recreate what is probably the tiniest model of the USS Voyager.
Researchers from the Leiden University developed so-called artificial “microswimmers,” objects comparable in size to bacteria and regularly between one and ten microns, capable of propelling themselves through liquid environments.
Most of the project’s work revolved around spherical objects, but the Leiden physicists used a new Nanoscribe Photonic Professional printer to build advanced items.
A paper on the subject, titled “Catalytically propelled 3D printed colloidal microswimmers,” was posted last month in the journal Soft Matter. The team presented their new creations, including a small Intrepid-class starship!
Performance at a tiny scale
The microswimmers can propel themself in liquid environments with the help of various chemical reactions, as their platinum coating reacts to a particular hydrogen peroxide solution. That is the mechanism the tiny USS Voyager uses to fly, though technically speaking, it’s more like swimming.
Researchers try to develop microswimmers capable of performing advanced tasks that can use practical situations like drug treatments.
Who knows, maybe one day a USS Voyager will navigate through your bloodstream in an attempt to save your life!
You don’t have to be a StarTrek fan to realize what a great accomplishment these microswimmers are. They are not only invisible to the naked eye, but the amount of detail on them is simply astonishing!
Who knows what the future will bring in the matter of microswimmers and how they will find a place in our day-to-day lives.