How would utility fluids move and stay together?
The concept of utility fogs is actually pretty old. The idea is a swarm of fairly small micromachines (about 100 micrometers in length) that would be able to mimic most materials and objects.
Each foglet (an individual micromachine of the swarm) has numerous arms that it can use to connect to other foglets and share energy, information, or to form a bond as part of building up an object.
Utility fluids are supposed to be capable of roughly the same, however, they would be suspended in a liquid, instead of hovering in the air. There are some issues with that. Namely:
- Moving the swarm becomes more difficult as liquids are pretty heavy, compared to air. This gets even worse if the swarm was to scale obstacles.
- Keeping the swarm together is also an issue, though intermolecular forces, such as cohesion, might be of some help.
The energy source of micromachines is often questioned. Utility fluids might be able to use energy-dense chemicals within the fluid they're suspended in, while airborne micromachines could be semi-organic and use glucose. The original concept for utility fogs had them use hydrogen.
How would utility fluids be able to move and keep themselves together?