William McLellan's micromotor module, 1960.

William McLellan's micromotor module, 1960.
3 4 c m
40cm
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm

Description

This is a very small conventional wired wound electrical motor. It is shown here magnified as in reality it is only about half a millimetre in length. In 1959, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman offered a prize of $1000 to anyone who could build an electrical motor small enough to fit in a box 1/64 of an inch square. Working in his lunch hours, McLellan, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, built this motor using a microscope, a watchmaker's lathe and a toothpick. It took him two and a half months to build, and weighs only 250 millionths of a gramme. Today the field of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) engineering has progresed to such an extent that motors hundreds of times smaller even than McLellan's have been produced.

Image Details

Image Ref.
 
10321573

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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