If they were to be used for planetary exploration, smart dust particles would have to carry sensors. But current chemical sensors would be too large to be carried on particles the size of sand grains.
The scientists hope the pace of miniaturisation will make smaller sensors available in coming decades.
“We are still at an early stage, working on simulations and components,” said Dr Barker.
“We have a lot of obstacles to overcome before we are even ready to physically test our designs.”