April 15, 2024


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They develop microbots inspired by plant nature to revolutionize medical procedures

2 min read

A group of scientists has achieved a significant advancement in the field of flexible material robot technology, a feat with promising applications in the realm of health.

They have devised intelligent materials that serve as the foundation for creating microbots used in less invasive medical procedures, an advancement that could change how we perceive medical treatments, making them more effective and less disruptive.

The standout feature of these robots is their ability to navigate confined and fluid-filled environments, much like the interior of the human body. Moreover, they have the capability to transport delicate payloads such as cells or tissues to various destinations. They are crafted from advanced hydrogel compounds and incorporate cellulose nanoparticles derived from plants.

These intelligent materials have the ability to alter their shape in response to different external chemical stimuli, allowing doctors to program a crucial shape change in the creation of functional flexible robots.

“In my research group, we are merging the old and the new,” stated Shahsavan, director of Intelligent Materials for Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART-Lab). “We are introducing emerging microbots that leverage traditional soft matter, such as hydrogels, liquid crystals, and colloids.”

As a result, the robots could be tailored to a wide range of specific medical tasks, including biopsies and the transport of cells and tissues. What sets these microbots apart is their self-healing quality.

This material can also be magnetically modified to facilitate the movement of these small, soft robots within the human body.

In preliminary trials, researchers successfully maneuvered a microbot through a maze by controlling its movement with a magnetic field.

“Chemical engineers play a crucial role in pushing the boundaries of medical microrobotics research,” emphasized Shahsavan. “Addressing the significant challenges of microrobotics requires the skill set and knowledge possessed by chemical engineers, including heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics, reaction engineering, polymers, soft matter science, and biochemical systems.”

“We are in a unique position to introduce innovative pathways in this emerging field, thanks to our multidisciplinary knowledge and skills,” he concluded.

Published by Iraic.Info, a news and information agency.

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