Researchers at Leiden University are developing methods to 3D print synthetic microswimmers, microscopic devices that can propel themselves by interacting with the chemicals in their surrounding environment. The physicists print microswimmers of different shapes to determine how that affects the devices' motion. Along with boats and geometric shapes, they recently printed a model of Star Trek's USS Voyager that's just 15 micrometers long. (A human hair is around 75 micrometers in diameter.) From CNN:
"By studying synthetic microswimmers, we would like to understand biological microswimmers," Samia Ouhajji, one of the study's authors, told CNN. "This understanding could aid in developing new drug delivery vehicles; for example, microrobots that swim autonomously and deliver drugs at the desired location in the human body." […]
While most people wouldn't understand what the USS Voyager has to do with science, Jonas Hoecht, one of the study's co-authors, had his own reason to replicate the ship.
"In the last week of his project, I promised him we could print any shape he liked," Ouhajji said. "As a major Star Trek fan, he choose the USS Voyager. Additionally, it was also to show that the type of shapes we can print is almost limitless."
"Catalytically propelled 3D printed colloidal microswimmers" (Soft Matter)