Say hello to tiny robot doctors

Say hello to tiny robot doctors

Scientists have developed microrobots capable of performing operations.

It’s an impressive discovery that could change how medical operations are performed in the future: microrobots that do the repairs by remote control.

Scientists have been trying to figure out how to use miniature robots for years to navigate the human body more effectively and with better precision. Now, scientists at EPFL and ETHZ have developed microrobots that can enter the human body, delivering drugs to targeted locations or performing precise operations like cleaning up gunked up arteries, according to a statement.

These microrobots could replace invsive and risky surgery, leading not only to more effective surgeries, but also safer ones with fewer complications.

The scientists published their findings in Nature Communications, detailing how they produced complex reconfigurable microrobots. They also created an integrated manipulation platform capable of remotely controlling the robots through electromagnetic fields, or they can use heat to make them change their shapes.

The robot basically looks and moves like bacterium. It is soft, flexible and doesn’t require a motor.

The finding also helps scientists gain a better understanding of how bacteria behave. The discovery shows how the body of the bacterium and its flagellum play a role in its movement.

“Building one of these microrobots involves several steps,” the statement reads. “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.

“Once the final shape is achieved, an electromagnetic field is used to make the robot swim,” it continues. “Then, when heated, the robot changes shape and “unfolds”. This fabrication approach allowed the researchers to build microrobots that mimic the bacterium that causes African trypanosomiasis, otherwise known as sleeping sickness. This particular bacterium uses a flagellum for propulsion, but hides it away once inside a person’s bloodstream as a survival mechanism.”

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