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Winged Microchip Smallest-Ever Human-Made Flying Structure


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The microflier, equipped with a coil antenna and sensors to detect ultraviolet rays.

About the size of a grain of sand, the flying microchip (or microflier) does not have a motor or engine, instead catching flight on the wind.

Credit: Northwestern University

Flying microchips developed by engineers at Northwestern University could be used to monitor air pollution and airborne disease.

These microfliers, the smallest-ever human-made flying structures, do not use motors or engines; they are aerodynamically designed to fall at a slow velocity in a controlled manner.

They can be outfitted with sensors, power sources, antennas for wireless communication, and embedded memory to store data.

Said Northwestern's John A. Rogers, "We think that we beat nature, at least in the narrow sense that we have been able to build structures that fall with more stable trajectories and at slower terminal velocities than equivalent seeds that you would see from plants or trees."

From Northwestern Now
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