Nanotechnology power source?

I’ve been reading recently about nanotechnology. A popular scenario describes nano-bots and nano-machines. Robots and machines to my mind mean power sources. Are there tiny engines driving these things?

If so how do you build a nano-engine?


I suspect that the nanomachines would need to be constantly eating. Most likely you would need to make nanomachines that were specifically crafted for a particular environment (like inner-body, underwater, or whatever) and they would know to look for particular molecules that they should process.

Either that or you could run them in an environment into which you pumped gasses that they could use. For instance, you could fill a nano-workroom full of gas vapour, and they would have a nano-lung thing that would pull the vapour through and burn the gas.

Or, more probably, you would simply electrify the work room. Such a process might also work for the body. But I’m not sure what applying a slight charge to the human body for long intervals would do(?)


If you asked me to build one right now, with what little technology I have on the top of my head, I would probably use an external magnet to move the parts in there (or microwaves, or a laser to heat and deform the parts, or something like that). It would be an external power source that “beams” the energy to the nanomachine.

Many different methods have been proposed including integrating a radioactive film and making use of particles from nuclear decay, using natural forces like the casimir effect, using electromagnetic fields through inductive coils, and using local kinetic energy. Here’s an article about a small nanowire generator that produces current when bent.

Sorry for the slow response - holidays.

Thanks for the link. I’m surprised that this aspect of nanotech is where it is given the tremendous interest in the field.


There was a spot on the START section on the december issue of Wired Magazine where they show microbes begin used in nanomachines for propulsion, among other uses. It may be a bit of a cheat for what you are asking, but then again nobody complained when man started using mules to pull their carts before inventing IC engines.

It should be available on the online version.