Assembling a microrobot used to require a pair of needle-nosed tweezers, a microscope, steady hands and at least eight hours. But now U of T Engineering researchers have developed a method that requires only a 3D printer and 20 minutes.
In the lab of Professor Eric Diller (MIE), researchers create magnetized microrobots — the size of the head of a pin — that can travel through fluid-filled vessels and organs within the human body. Diller and his team control the motion of these microrobots wirelessly using magnetic fields.
Each microrobot is built by precisely arranging microscopic sections of magnetic needles atop a flat, flexible material. Once deployed, the researchers apply magnetic fields to induce microrobots to travel with worm-like motion through fluid channels, or close its tiny mechanical ‘jaws’ to take a tissue sample.
“These robots are quite difficult and labour-intensive to fabricate because the process requires precision,” says Tianqi Xu (MIE MASc candidate). “Also because of the need for manual assembly, it’s more difficult to make these robots smaller, which is a major goal of our research.”
That is why Xu and his labmates developed an automated approach that significantly cuts down on design and development time, and expands the types of microrobots they can manufacture. Their findings were published today in Science Robotics.
Smaller and more complex microrobots are needed for future medical applications, such as targeted drug delivery, assisted fertilization, or biopsies.
“If we were taking samples in the urinary tract or within fluid cavities of the brain — we envision that an optimized technique would be instrumental in scaling down surgical robotic tools,” says Diller.
To demonstrate the capabilities of their new technique, the researchers devised more than 20 different robotic shapes, which were then programmed into a 3D printer. The printer then builds and solidifies the design, orienting the magnetically patterned particles as part of the process.
“Previously, we would prepare one shape and manually design it, spend weeks planning it, before we could fabricate it. And that’s just one shape,” says Diller. “Then when we build it, we would inevitably discover specific quirks — for example, we might have to tweak it to be a little bigger or thinner to make it work.”
“Now we can program the shapes and click print,” adds Xu. “We can iterate, design and refine it easily. We have the power to really explore new designs now.”
The researchers’ optimized approach opens the doors for developing even smaller and more complex microrobots than the current millimetre-size. “We think it’s promising that we could one day go 10 times smaller,” says Diller.
Diller’s lab plans to use the automated process to explore more sophisticated and complicated shapes of microrobots. “As a robotics research community, there’s a need to explore this space of tiny medical robots,” adds Diller. “Being able to optimize designs is a really critical aspect of what the field needs.”
The Latest on: Microrobots
via Google News
The Latest on: Microrobots
- Microswimmers are inanimate microparticles, but they move like moths to the lighton November 27, 2020 at 9:53 am
The Freigeist group at TU Dresden, led by chemist Dr. Juliane Simmchen, has studied an impressive behavior of synthetic microswimmers: as soon as the photocatalytic particles leave an illuminated zone ...
- Miniscule robots of metal and plasticon November 24, 2020 at 2:12 am
Such microrobots will one day revolutionise the field of medicine. Robots so tiny that they can manoeuvre through our blood vessels and deliver medications to certain points in the body – researchers ...
- Fabrication Simplified for Medical Microrobotson November 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Researchers have reduced the geometric requirements for fluid motion in microrobots to simplify the fabrication of machines for tiny medical tasks such as incising tissue, puncturing veins, or ...
- ‘Medical microrobots’, ‘room temperature superconductivity’ among 2020 science breakthroughson November 19, 2020 at 8:25 am
Near room-temperature superconductivity for energy transmission without loss, medical microrobots to carry out risky surgeries in hard-to-reach body parts, and “revolutionary” protein based ...
- ‘Like having billions of tiny 3D printers’: Scientists train BACTERIA to build complex microscopic structureson November 11, 2020 at 9:13 am
Researchers at Finland’s Aalto University have successfully turned bacteria into a microscopic workforce of nanobots, using molds made of hydrophobic material to create incredibly intricate ...
- ‘Medical microrobots’, ‘room temperature superconductivity’ among 2020 science breakthroughson November 9, 2020 at 9:55 am
(Pixabay) Near room-temperature superconductivity for energy transmission without loss, medical microrobots to carry out risky surgeries in hard-to-reach body parts, and “revolutionary ...
- Two-Photon Polymerization Produces 3D Printed Microrobotson November 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm
A curated collection of industry and product deep-dives. Al Siblani is a 3D printing pioneer who got his start over 19 years ago. He worked with layered object manufacturing—the paper, and laser ...
- Does a Video Show a ‘Butthole’ Surfing Robot?on October 30, 2020 at 8:21 am
In future applications, the microrobots can be coated in drugs that could be administered directly to the organ being targeted, reducing potential adverse side effects from drugs as they pass ...
- All-terrain microrobot flips through a live colonon October 23, 2020 at 10:01 am
A video explaining the work is available on YouTube. The microrobots, cheaply made of polymer and metal, are nontoxic and biocompatible, the study showed. Commonly used roll-to-roll manufacturing ...
- Jumping spiders and flying bees: The rise of bio inspired microrobotson May 30, 2018 at 3:08 am
He is presenting some of his research, “Spiders Attack: The rise of bioinspired microrobots” at Manchester’s Industry 4.0 Summit on Thursday 1 March. Here Dr Nabawy explains why micro robots really ...
via Bing News