One day we may be able to ingest tiny robots that deliver drugs directly to diseased tissue, thanks to research being carried out at EPFL and ETH Zurich.
The group of scientists – led by Selman Sakar at EPFL and Bradley Nelson at ETH Zurich – drew inspiration from bacteria to design smart, biocompatible microrobots that are highly flexible. Because these devices are able to swim through fluids and modify their shape when needed, they can pass through narrow blood vessels and intricate systems without compromising on speed or maneuverability. They are made of hydrogel nanocomposites that contain magnetic nanoparticles allowing them to be controlled via an electromagnetic field.
In an article appearing in Science Advances, the scientists describe the method they have developed for “programming” the robot’s shape so that it can easily travel through fluids that are dense, viscous or moving at rapid speeds.
When we think of robots, we generally think of bulky machines equipped with complex systems of electronics, sensors, batteries and actuators. But on a microscopic scale, robots are entirely different.
Fabricating miniaturized robots presents a host of challenges, which the scientists addressed using an origami-based folding method. Their novel locomotion strategy employs embodied intelligence, which is an alternative to the classical computation paradigm that is performed by embedded electronic systems. “Our robots have a special composition and structure that allow them to adapt to the characteristics of the fluid they are moving through. For instance, if they encounter a change in viscosity or osmotic concentration, they modify their shape to maintain their speed and maneuverability without losing control of the direction of motion,” says Sakar.
These deformations can be “programmed” in advance so as to maximize performance without the use of cumbersome sensors or actuators. The robots can be either controlled using an electromagnetic field or left to navigate on their own through cavities by utilizing fluid flow. Either way, they will automatically morph into the most efficient shape.
The Latest on: Smart microrobots
via Google News
The Latest on: Smart microrobots
- A flexible microsystem capable of controlled motion and actuation by wireless power transferon March 20, 2020 at 9:13 am
Microscale systems that can combine multiple functionalities, such as untethered motion, actuation and communication, could be of use in a variety of applications from robotics to drug delivery.
- Secrets to swimming efficiency of whales, dolphinson March 19, 2020 at 10:24 am
Aug. 31, 2016 — Scientists have developed microrobots with high propulsion efficiency in highly-viscous fluid environments, applying propulsion techniques that mimic the ciliary stroke motion of ...
- Essential Science: How robotics is reshaping surgical practiceon March 2, 2020 at 1:40 am
The process is based on a swarm of microrobots, constructed to deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body. The control and monitoring of the robots takes place outside the body, under the ...
- Search results for microroboton February 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm
(Phys.org) —Shape memory polymers are "smart" plastic materials that can be transformed into a temporary shape and then return to their original shape, triggered by an external stimulus such as ...
- Researchers Develop New Light-Driven Miniaturized Rotary Micromotoron February 20, 2020 at 7:33 am
integration of new smart materials with sophisticated fabrication methods will enable them to develop further miniature components and drives. Studies on polymer actuators and soft microrobots is ...
- Researchers Create Dynamic Self-Assembly Process for Building Mobile Micromachineson July 26, 2019 at 10:27 pm
multimaterial microrobots. The researchers will now focus on optimizing and expanding on “the irreversible assembly of micro-components” for better performance in applications that don’t use ...
via Bing News