8 SERVO 07.2015
Germbot Senses Humidity
A recent development at the University of Illinois at
Chicago ( www.uic.edu) doesn't appear to be all that robotic,
but creator Vikas Berry has officially dubbed it the Nano-Electro-Robotic Device (yes, NERD), so we won't argue the
point. Besides, it is interesting in several ways.
For one thing, it is a bioelectronic device created by
depositing two graphene quantum dots at opposite ends of a
sporulating bacterium, thus creating a "robotic germ." When
researchers attach electrodes to the quantum dots, the result
is a bacterial humidity sensor. When the humidity level drops,
the spore expels water and shrinks. As the dots become
closer to each other, their conductivity increases and can be
measured at the electrodes.
According to Berry, NERD reacts ten times faster than
polymer-based devices and provides better sensitivity in low
pressure/low humidity situations. "We can go all the way
down to a vacuum and see a response," he noted, which is
useful in preventing corrosion or food spoilage and "is also
important in space applications, where any change in
humidity could signal a leak."
No specific applications were cited, but the project was backed by the Terry C. Johnson
Center for Basic Cancer Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval
Research, which may give us a hint.
Spores’ response to humidity
is translated to an electronic
response at graphene
by Jeff and Jenn Eckert
Slip-On Robotic Feet
This month's venture into robotic ridiculosity brings us to the Giant Robot Slippers with Sound, available from
ThinkGeek. At least from the ankles down, they allow you to look and sound exactly (well, sort of) like a real robot. They
are designed to fit any foot up to a men's size 12 (ladies' size 14). Best of all, as you walk, they exude a "vrrrrrr-clank"
sound that is sure to annoy family, friends, and (if you dare) coworkers.
The slippers will run you a somewhat hefty $29.95, but they
are guaranteed to comply with Asimov's Three Laws. The required
four AA batteries, of course, are not included. Details and a video
can be found at www.thinkgeek.com/product/153b.
ThinkGeek's Giant Robot Slippers with Sound.