26 September 2016


The fastest and most maneuverable micro robots capable of operating inside a living organism


We have repeatedly told our readers about various types of remote-controlled micro robots designed to deliver medicines and perform microsurgical operations right inside the human body. All these robots have their own micro-motors, which are very often copies of the motor systems of various living organisms and which allow micro-robots to move inside the bloodstream with varying efficiency. A kind of record holder in the speed of movement is a new micro robot created by specialists of the Department of Robotics Engineering of the Daegu Research Institute (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology), Republic of Korea. This micro robot is the "mechanical embodiment" of the Paramecium microorganism, known as the slipper infusoria, and it can move eight times faster than its closest competitors.

The main problem faced by the developers of such microrobots is that these microrobots will have to operate in a bloodstream environment that is more viscous than plain water. Some types of movement used by ordinary marine and river animals do not provide high efficiency in a viscous liquid environment, so engineers are increasingly using the ways in which different types of microorganisms move. And the infusoria-slipper, which has many movable "cilia", is one of the most nimble and agile microorganisms.



Drawings from the DGIST Prof press release. Hongsoo Choi’s Research Team Develops World’s First Ciliary Stroke Motion Microrobots.
How the infusoria robot floats when the axis of the electromagnetic field changes and writes out the name of the "native" institute, you can watch the video from the article by Kim et. al., "Fabrication and Manipulation of Ciliary Microrobots with Non-reciprocal Magnetic Actuation" (Scientific Reports, 2016) - VM.

Unfortunately, the production of analogues of movable "cilia" for a long time was far beyond the technological capabilities of scientists. And only not so long ago, the technology of three-dimensional laser lithography was born, with the help of which South Korean researchers created a polymer body of a micro robot with several thin and movable "cilia". A layer of titanium and nickel was applied to these protrusions in order to make it possible to control the micro robot using a magnetic field and make it as biologically compatible as possible.

As in other similar cases, Korean researchers used coils of electromagnets, the alternating field of which caused the "cilia" of micro robots to oscillate with a certain frequency and amplitude. The tests have shown that the microrobot, whose size is 220 micrometers, is able to move at a speed of 340 micrometers per second. At the same time, its maneuverability is many times higher than that of other micro robots with external magnetic control. Moving at maximum speed, the micro-robot infusoria can instantly change the direction of movement by 120 degrees and this allows it to effectively maneuver in a complex network of tiny blood vessels.

The high efficiency of the micro-robot's propulsion system-infusoria allows it to move a payload of a sufficiently large weight. In this case, this payload can be not only capsules with a drug, but also more complex micro devices that, for example, will mix medicines from components right near the point of their application. And the polymer from which the micro robot is made will dissolve and disappear without a trace after this robot completes the task assigned to it.

The next steps that South Korean researchers will take will be the development of a number of algorithms that will control the actions of micro-robots-infusoria and which will be aimed at performing various practical tasks inside the human body.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  26.09.2016

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