Remote-Controlled Microrobots for Medical Operations Move Like Bacterium
In recent years, scientists around the world have been studying ways to use miniature robots to better treat a variety of diseases. The robots are designed to enter the human body, where they can deliver drugs at specific locations or perform precise operations like clearing clogged-up arteries. EPFL scientists have now developed a simple and versatile method for building such bio-inspired robots and equipping them with advanced features. They also created a platform for testing several robot designs and studying different modes of locomotion. Their work produced complex reconfigurable microrobots that can be manufactured with high throughput. They built an integrated manipulation platform that can remotely control the robots' mobility with electromagnetic fields, and cause them to shape-shift using heat. These microrobots are soft, flexible, and motor-less. They are made of a biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have two functions - they give the microrobots their shape during the manufacturing process, and make them move and swim when an electromagnetic field is applied.