Further developments in the field of microtechnology with the development by the University of Waterloo of a magnetically-levitating microbot with laser-controlled manipulators:
The micro-robot has pincers that can be opened by heating them with a laser. When the laser is turned off, the pincers cool and close.
“Since there is no wiring, and the robot freely floats in air, it can operate in an enclosed chamber while the whole setup is outside,” Khamesee said. “It can work in hazardous environments, toxic chambers, and it can be used to conduct bio-hazardous experiments. Also, since there is no mechanical linkage, it has a dust-free operation, suitable for clean room applications.”
This is starting to approach some of the microbot widgetry described in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.