Oct, 2021 - By SMI
Researchers developed cell-size robots that can be fuelled and remotely navigated using ultrasound waves and could one day be a tool for drug delivery in the body.
Powering microscopic robots created for drug delivery without using big batteries still remains a challenge for researchers. However, a team of scientists at Cornell University engineered cell-size microscopic robots that can be powered using ultrasound waves as well as they can be navigated remotely by the same method. The scientists were inspired by the movements of bacteria and sperm, which lead them to the development of these micro-robots. As per the research published in the journal Lab on a Chip on September 10, 2021, these micro-robots could one day be an efficient tool for targeted drug delivery.
The team explains, the goal behind the project was to build microscopic robots that are remotely controlled and can navigate through human body. The early efforts of the scientists to build micro-robots by 3D-printing which was inspired by movements of bacteria, failed. It pushed them to explore different ways, where the main concern was of powering these micro-robots so they could swim through the body. This time the team thought of using ultrasound waves as they are silent and easy to use in laboratories. Later they 3D-printed nanostructures which were made of hydrophobic resins and had two cavities in their back with different diameters. When these micro-robots are placed in any liquid, they form bubbles in each cavity. The bubbles are oscillated by high-frequency waves, which pushes the robot forward. Furthermore, changing the frequency of sound waves, the scientists were able to control the micro-robots.
The team is now working on making these microscopic robots biocompatible in order to navigate them amongst blood cells that are almost the same size as the robots. To use them in bulk, these robots will need biodegradable material so they can dissolve in the blood without causing any complications.
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