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C. Micro-Machines at the Cutting Edge

Narrator: This is Science Today. Engineer Chih-Ming Ho of UCLA is working on the forefront of a new technology -- the creation of extremely small machines called micro-machines.

Ho: Micro-machine is a new technology developed about say ten years ago. By using that technology we are able to make mechanical parts in the size of about a micron.

Narrator: A human hair is fifteen microns across, so these machines are actually microscopic. One practical application will be micro-sensors on airplane wings. Tiny pockets of turbulence create drag on the wing, slowing the plane down and using extra fuel. Micro-sensors connected to micro-flaps can sense and control air flow.

Ho: It's a very small sensor, and then we can use the sensor signal to control the flow and reduce the drag on the airplane.

Narrator: Ho predicts another use will be in surgery. Microscopic tubes will send out jets of air at supersonic speeds, which will act as micro-scalpels able to cut individual human cells. For delicate procedures such as eye surgery, micro-machines will be truly cutting edge. For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.