French scientists have taken the concept of the tiny home to a whole other (and far tinier) level. To show off their newfangled μRobotex nanorobotics system, the team from the Femto-ST Institute in Besançon constructed a “microhouse” on an optical fibre as thin as a single hair. Despite being 20 micrometres long (which, with one micrometre measuring one-millionth of a meter, is not very long at all), the cosy abode features some impressive details, from a front door and windows to a tiled(ish) roof with a chimney.
According to a paper published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology, the house was painstakingly built from silica using a robotically controlled ion gun, and it’s so small not even a mite could live inside it. Which might make it one of the most useless pieces of real estate on the planet. But it’s not all for nought: with this proof of concept out of the way, μRobotex can now look for more practical applications. Some speculate it could be used to build senses on the tips of optical fibres that can detect viruses in individual blood vessels. Brave new world, huh?