Remotely controlled miniature biological robots have many potential applications in medicine, sensing and environmental monitoring.
Image courtesy of Yongdeok Kim
First, they walked. Then, they saw the light. Now, miniature biological robots have gained a new trick: remote control.
The hybrid “eBiobots” are the first to combine soft materials, living muscle and microelectronics, said researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and collaborating institutions. They described their centimeter-scale biological machines in the journal Science Robotics.
The design allows for possible future integration of additional microelectronics, such as chemical and biological sensors, or 3D-printed scaffold parts for functions like pushing or transporting things that the biobots encounter, said co-first author Youngdeok Kim, who completed the work as a graduate student at Illinois.
The integration of electronic sensors or biological neurons would allow the eBiobots to sense and respond to toxins in the environment, biomarkers for disease and more possibilities, the researchers said.
“In developing a first-ever hybrid bioelectronic robot, we are opening the door for a new paradigm of applications for health care innovation, such as in-situ biopsies and analysis, minimum invasive surgery or even cancer detection within the human body,” Li said.
Original Article: Microelectronics give researchers a remote control for biological robots
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