For thousands of years, people have been coaxing other creatures into doing chores. Now, a team of scientists has microsized the strategy. They've devised a way to make single-cell algae bear loads over distances of several centimeters—a tactic that the researchers say could prove useful in tiny machines.
Algae and other single-celled organisms power their movements with molecular motors. Scientists have long coveted these motors for use in micromachinery, notes chemist Douglas B. Weibel of Harvard University.
However, pulling the devices from cells and modifying them to work with lab-derived machinery would require sophisticated bioengineering techniques. To avoid that hurdle, Weibel and other scientists led by George M. Whitesides of Harvard