JAN 19, 2019 08:03 PM PST

What Are Smart Microrobots?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Generally speaking, robots are seen as these moving bulky machines loaded with complex systems of electronics, sensors, batteries and actuators. But, what if robots can be designed on a microscopic scale? What capabilities can they ensue?

Learn more about robots:

In a publication seen in Science Advances, researchers were inspired by microorganims to design smart microrobots that are elastic and highly flexible. These microrobots are made of hydrogel nanocomposites that can be controlled through an electromagnetic field because of their magnetic nanoparticles. They are biocompatible and can swim through dense or viscous bodily fluids modifying their shape as necessary--for example, they can navigate through blood vessels.

However, a lot of challenges are present when designing miniaturized robots such as creating a novel locomotion strategy. "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 Selman Sakar, a research scientist at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

Scientists at EPFL and ETH Zurich have developed tiny elastic robots that can change shape depending on their surroundings.

Credit: EPFL via Science Daily

"Nature has evolved a multitude of microorganisms that change shape as their environmental conditions change. This basic principle inspired our microrobot design. The key challenge for us was to develop the physics that describe the types of changes we were interested in, and then to integrate this with new fabrication technologies," said Bradley Nelson, also a lead scientist of the study at ETH Zurich. The researchers are now hopeful to use their findings to improve robotic performance for the navigation of more complex fluids presents in the human body.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
DEC 18, 2018
Technology
DEC 18, 2018
Battery-free Implantable Device for Weight Loss
Obesity is considered a rising epidemic affecting more than 700 million adults and children. Measures to control obesity have ranged from risky weight-loss...
DEC 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 20, 2018
A Computational Tool for Unraveling the Genetics of Complex Traits
Genetic research has moved beyond the single mutation that causes a disease. Scientists want to know more about traits that are influenced by multiple genes....
JAN 07, 2019
Technology
JAN 07, 2019
AI Model Predicts Cancer Symptoms
In the first study of its kind, newly AI created by researchers at the University of Surrey can advance treatment for cancer patients by assisting physicia...
JAN 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 23, 2019
Blue Origin Launches and Lands New Shepard Rocket for 10th Time
Blue Origin, the Jeff Bezos-owned commercial aerospace company, achieved a significant milestone on Wednesday after successfully launching and landing its...
JAN 31, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 31, 2019
Scientists Produce Electricity From Marijuana Metabolites
In a recent study, scientists were able to successfully turn cannabis metabolites into electricity. The paper, published by Dr. Tunc Canal and co...
FEB 03, 2019
Technology
FEB 03, 2019
3D Printing with Light
A study on new 3D printing technology, published in Science, transforms gooey liquids into complex solid objects using light and in only a matter of minute...
Loading Comments...