Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities

© 1999 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 1999


5.3 Metamorphic Surfaces

Metamorphic surfaces are ubiquitous throughout the animal kingdom. The best known examples are the skins of dolphins2034,2035 and sharks,2036,2037 which may actively manipulate the contours of their rubbery integuments in real time to reduce or eliminate skin turbulence and thus maintain near-perfect streamlines to maximize swimming speed (though some have questioned this interpretation).2022,2038

A precise control of the skin may seem foreign to us because, aside from eyebrow-raising, humans have lost volitional local dermal mobility in most areas of the body. Many lower animals can exercise precise control because they possess a well developed layer of cutaneous striped muscle, the paniculus carnosus, of which only vestigial remnants remain in the subdermal tissues of human beings. In man, the skin is more or less firmly attached to relatively inelastic and immobile fascia, which in turn is attached to major musculature, bone, or other underlying structures, particularly on the extremities and anterior chest wall.

An ability to control a nanorobot surface has many interesting applications and implications. This Section describes basic design considerations, specific configurations, and other useful aspects of nanoscale metamorphic surfaces.


Last updated on 17 February 2003