July 27, 2016


Scientists Develop Shape-Shifting Microbots That May Soon Be Used To Carry Out Precise Medical Operations (AVANEESH PANDEY, 07/25/16, IB Times)

[I]n a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, these researchers have now described a new method for building such "microbots."

"We show that both a bacterium's body and its flagellum play an important role in its movement," EPFL scientist Mahmut Selman Sakar -- a co-author of the study -- said in a statement. "Our new production method lets us test an array of shapes and combinations to obtain the best motion capability for a given task. Our research also provides valuable insight into how bacteria move inside the human body and adapt to changes in their microenvironment."

According to the researchers, these microrobots -- made of biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles -- are soft, flexible, and motorless. The magnetic nanoparticles serve two purposes -- they give the bots their shape and they make them move under the influence of an electromagnetic field.

"Building one of these microrobots involves several steps. First, the nanoparticles are placed inside layers of a biocompatible hydrogel. Then an electromagnetic field is applied to orientate the nanoparticles at different parts of the robot, followed by a polymerization step to 'solidify' the hydrogel. After this, the robot is placed in water where it folds in specific ways depending on the orientation of the nanoparticles inside the gel, to form the final overall 3D architecture of the microrobot," the researchers explained in the statement.

Posted by at July 27, 2016 7:53 PM