NIST and Nanosoccer

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Imagine a robotic David Beckham six times smaller than an amoeba playing with a "soccer ball" no wider than a human hair with all of the action happening on a field the size of single grain of rice.

It may sound like the stuff of science fiction but at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), nanosoccer is serious business.

NIST, the federal agency that advances U.S. innovation and competitiveness, is partnering with industry, universities and other organizations to move us toward a future where robots smaller than the eye can see are put to work in a variety of ways.

NIST's conducts its nanosoccer competitions and demonstrations in conjunction with RoboCup, an international organization dedicated to using the game of soccer as a testing ground for the robotics technologies of the future. NIST's goal in coordinating competitions between the world's smallest robots-known as nanobots (nanoscale robots)-is to show the feasibility and accessibility of technologies for fabricating MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS), tiny mechanical devices built onto semiconductor chips and measured in micrometers (millionth of a meter).

The soccer nanobots are operated by remote control under an optical microscope. They move in response to changing magnetic fields or electrical signals transmitted across the microchip arena. Although the bots are a few tens of micrometers to a few hundred micrometers long, they are considered "nanoscale" because their masses range from a few nanograms to a few hundred nanograms. They are manufactured from materials such as aluminum, nickel, gold, silicon and chromium.

In this Web site, you will learn more about nanosoccer, how its works and how its lessons are helping realize the dream of working microrobots that can dramatically improve our quality of life.

2009 RoboCup Nanogram Competition (Graz, Austria)

Nanosoccer Event Summaries



Created May 04, 2011, Updated September 21, 2016