THE ROBOTS WERE finally walking. And Nadine Dabby was struggling to contain her excitement.
It was a Friday evening in early 2008, at a lab in the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Dabby was working alone at an atomic force microscope when an email pinged into her inbox from her collaborator, Kyle Lund, from Arizona State University.
When she saw the email contained an attachment, the young researcher’s pulse thumped a little harder. For months, Dabby and her colleagues had been fine-tuning their experiments, and in the email Lund told her their efforts had borne fruit.
Clicking on the attachment, she saw something she had been striving toward for years: sequential snapshots of tiny robots she and her colleagues had been building moving step by step across a ‘lawn’ of molecules, mowing them down as they went.
CONTINUED at COSMOS.