These oscillations can then be harnessed to power tiny robotic devices, the researchers showed. The particles used to create the new oscillator perform a simple chemical reaction that allows the particles to interact with each other through the formation and bursting of tiny gas bubbles. “Ants have minuscule brains and they do very simple cognitive tasks, but collectively they can do amazing things. The simple particles that the researchers designed for this study are discs as small as 100 microns in diameter. Each particle produces its own tiny bubble of oxygen, and when two particles come close enough that their bubbles interact, the bubbles pop, propelling the particles away from each other.