Improving on nature?

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It is only in the last 20 years that humans have created new tools that can build and manipulate at the nanoscale. Greaney uses these new tools with inspiration from nature.

“A frog’s inner ear is a nanoscale detection system: when these tiny bundles of hair move just a few nanometers, the frog hears a sound.”
Photo courtesy Max Westby

Many animals use nanoscale “mechanical systems” to sense their environment. Greaney is trying to figure out how humans can create nanoscale detection systems to do the same thing.

A male silk moth can sense a female up to two miles away. How? Greaney says, “It accomplishes this incredible feat by using nanotechnology to detect just a single pheromone molecule at a time, and then being smart enough to fly in the direction of increasing scent.”
Photo courtesy Sean McCann