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STATES CHRONICLE – A group of Swiss researchers said that they are one step closer to develop a fleet of microbots which could assist doctors in the operating room and help deliver medicines directly into patients’ body at some point in the future.
The team at the Research institution in Lausanne, Switzerland, explained that the new machines are bio-inspired, i.e. the group drew inspiration from nature to design them. Currently, scientists plan to test several types of small bots on a special platform.
The interesting part about the new robots is that they can mimic the activity of a type of bacterium. According to the team, the microbots are soft, versatile and are not powered by a motor. Instead they were built from nanoparticles and biocompatible hydrogel.
The nanoparticles which are magnetic provide the devices with a shape and help them move around when an electromagnetic field is active. But designing the bots was not easy. Scientists had to first embed the nanoparticles in hydrogel.
Next, they activated an electromagnetic field to help the particles gain a proper orientation, and next they polymerized the robots to help the hydrogel gain a solid structure. Afterwards, the robots were submersed to enable them to gain a shape based on the orientation of the magnetic nanoparticles.
Once the bots have a shape, scientists apply an electromagnetic field to help them swim. If the robots are heated, they can shape-shift and unfold just like the bacteria that cause the African trypanosomiasis also known as the sleeping sickness.
Those bacteria use their flagellum to move but they hide it when they reach the bloodstream.
Scientists have set in place a version of the tiny bot that mimics the sleeping sickness bacteria. The bot has a flagellum-like structure which makes it swim. After the robot was heated with a laser, it hid its “flagellum” just like real bacteria do.
The research team recently said that the new bots are just a proof of concept. So, they need to be further improved to enter a patient’s bloodstream and effectively deliver medication. Researchers are currently zooming in the possible side-effects of the technology in humans.
A separate group of researchers announced last year that they were working on building microscopic bots to help clear patients’ clogged arteries.
The Swiss team recently published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Image Source: Pixabay