from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A nanoscale robot, many of which would interact to form claytronic structures
Right now, though, instead of making spheres, Intel is making cylinders, little tubes, each with 24 electromagnets around its circumference which can be powered on or off to move the catom in relationship to other catoms as their computers exchange information based on their programming.
Intel wants to eventually make each catom a sphere about 100 microns — 1/10th of a millimeter, about the size of a fine grain of sand — in diameter.
Each catom will contain computing power, memory, and the ability to store and share power and information with its fellows.
I'm hoping we'll get to see what they're looking at that indicates catom technology will be available in my lifetime. iRobot  is a leader in bringing practical robots to market for consumers and military applications.
Campbell envisions that each catom would have a computer processor and some form of memory.
Instead of sending individual directions to each catom, one set of instructions will have to be sent to make the catoms work together, so each one takes the correct position to create the desired 3-D shape.