JUL 16, 2016 06:25 AM PDT

Scientists Create Robotic 'Fish' Powered by Heart Cells

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Scientists working in collaboration at Harvard, Stanford and Sogang Universities were inspired by batoid fish such as stingrays to create a biohybrid system that gives an artificial animal, an engineered ray fish, the abilities to both swim as well as be guided by a light source, also known as phototaxis.

They put a layer of muscle cells, rat cardiomyocytes, onto an elastomeric body enclosing a microfabricated gold skeleton, thus replicating the morphology of fish at small scales.

Using optogenetics, a technique that utilizes light to control cells in live tissue, the engineered animal is capable of phototactic guidance, steering, and turning maneuvers, and optical stimulation which leads to coordinated swimming.

The researchers are able to change the speed and direction of the ray by altering light frequency and by independently controlling right and left fins, thus allowing their biohybrid machine to navigate through an obstacle course.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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