Assembling a microrobot used to require a pair of needle-nosed tweezers, a microscope, steady hands and at least eight hours. But now U of T Engineering researchers have developed a method that requires only a 3D printer and 20 minutes.
In the lab of Professor Eric Diller (MIE), researchers create magnetized microrobots — the size of the head of a pin — that can travel through fluid-filled vessels and organs within the human body. Diller and his team control the motion of these microrobots wirelessly using magnetic fields.
Each microrobot is built by precisely arranging microscopic sections of magnetic needles atop a flat, flexible material. Once deployed, the researchers apply magnetic fields to induce microrobots to travel with worm-like motion through fluid channels, or close its tiny mechanical ‘jaws’ to take a tissue sample.
“These robots are quite difficult and labour-intensive to fabricate because the process requires precision,” says Tianqi Xu (MIE MASc candidate). “Also because of the need for manual assembly, it’s more difficult to make these robots smaller, which is a major goal of our research.”
That is why Xu and his labmates developed an automated approach that significantly cuts down on design and development time, and expands the types of microrobots they can manufacture. Their findings were published today in Science Robotics.
Smaller and more complex microrobots are needed for future medical applications, such as targeted drug delivery, assisted fertilization, or biopsies.
“If we were taking samples in the urinary tract or within fluid cavities of the brain — we envision that an optimized technique would be instrumental in scaling down surgical robotic tools,” says Diller.
To demonstrate the capabilities of their new technique, the researchers devised more than 20 different robotic shapes, which were then programmed into a 3D printer. The printer then builds and solidifies the design, orienting the magnetically patterned particles as part of the process.
“Previously, we would prepare one shape and manually design it, spend weeks planning it, before we could fabricate it. And that’s just one shape,” says Diller. “Then when we build it, we would inevitably discover specific quirks — for example, we might have to tweak it to be a little bigger or thinner to make it work.”
“Now we can program the shapes and click print,” adds Xu. “We can iterate, design and refine it easily. We have the power to really explore new designs now.”
The researchers’ optimized approach opens the doors for developing even smaller and more complex microrobots than the current millimetre-size. “We think it’s promising that we could one day go 10 times smaller,” says Diller.
Diller’s lab plans to use the automated process to explore more sophisticated and complicated shapes of microrobots. “As a robotics research community, there’s a need to explore this space of tiny medical robots,” adds Diller. “Being able to optimize designs is a really critical aspect of what the field needs.”
The Latest on: Microrobots
[google_news title=”” keyword=”microrobots ” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Microrobots
- Technique for 3D printing metals at the nanoscale reveals surprise benefiton September 21, 2023 at 6:45 am
Caltech researchers revealed that they had developed a new fabrication technique for printing microsized metal parts containing features about as thick as three or four sheets of paper.
- Corkscrew-shaped microbot could use sound to spiral through human bodyon September 20, 2023 at 11:00 am
Microscopic helical robot travels through narrow tubes when exposed to sound, and could eventually be used to deliver drugs inside of the body by spiralling through its vasculature.
- University of Waterloo Researchers Secure Over $38.4 Million in Research Fundingon September 20, 2023 at 5:18 am
The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is a non-profit corporation that invests in research infrastructure at Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research ...
- Mini explosions give this little robot a big bounceon September 15, 2023 at 12:00 pm
“The high frequencies, speeds, and strengths allow [the] actuators to provide microrobots with locomotion capabilities that were previously available only to much larger robots,” writes Northwestern ...
- Chinese researchers create dancing microrobots using laserson September 14, 2023 at 8:58 am
Scientists develop a new technique for using lasers to create "dancing" microrobots with movable joints that have a wide variety of applications.
- Shapeshifting Microrobots that Fight Cancer on a Cellular Levelon September 12, 2023 at 5:00 pm
It’s real life. Researchers, in a proof-of-concept study, have made fish-shaped microrobots that are guided with magnets to cancer cells, where a pH change triggers them to open their mouths and ...
- Microrobots offer new opportunities for cancer treatment and wound healingon September 9, 2023 at 11:22 pm
A group of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed the world’s first microrobot (“microbot”) capable of navigating within groups of cells and stimulating individual cells ...
- The world’s smallest drumon September 8, 2023 at 6:15 am
That’s because small means small — about the width of a human hair.
- Scientists invent micro-robots to probe human cellson September 7, 2023 at 10:18 am
Now, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have invented a microrobot, which they say is the first of its kind. This microbot has the adeptness to navigate precisely within clusters ...
- The first microrobots capable of navigating within groups of cells and stimulating individual cellson September 6, 2023 at 5:02 pm
A group of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed the world's first microrobot ("microbot") capable of navigating within groups of cells and stimulating individual cells ...
via Bing News