The micro-propelled submarines are able to collect the drops of oil and bring it to the collection.
The team from the University of nano-engineering of California, San Diego, said his department tests showed "very promising".
Similar technology is capable of delivering drugs by a person, the blood flow. The research, published in the journal ACS Nano, suggested that they could not underwater microphone, "a collection of easy, fast and very efficient" engine and the drops of olive oil.
Small motors are driven by the bubbles generated by internal oxidation of hydrogen peroxide.
This means that small amounts of fuel and can move very quickly.
A prerequisite for more urgent following efforts to deal with spills in the Gulf of Mexico - Although currently there is only a laboratory test on the concept that hope for the best methods for handling a spill of future disasters basis.
"This is the first example of using nanomachines to clean up the environment," said lead researcher, said Joseph Wang of the BBC.
"We had developed a nano-machine self-propelled launch.
On the fly "are here with a superhydrophobic coating that provides a strong coated", "interaction with the oil droplets."
Superhydrophobic materials designed to be extremely difficult to wet, while able to effectively absorb the oil.
Last year, researchers from Penn State University has proven capable of carrying drugs to specific areas of the body through the bloodstream micromachines.
Research has parallels with the 1960 Tour of fantasy, science fiction comedy in which a submarine is reduced and its crew into the bloodstream of a key informants drawn type.