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Video: Microrobots roll against blood flow to deliver drugs

  • 02 July 2020

With the help of magnetic fields, the bots might one day navigate the circulatory system to target tumors

Drug-carrying microrobots offer a way to deliver treatments straight to where they are needed, such as tumors deep within the body. But most bots designed in labs have so far been limited to easy-to-reach targets such as the gut. Now, researchers have developed drug-delivering “microrollers” that can move against blood flow (Sci. Robot. 2020, DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aba5726). With the help of a magnetic field, these two-faced particles might one day navigate our circulatory system to deliver treatments to tumors. The microrollers are coated on one side with magnetic materials and on the other with antibodies specific to cancer cells. These antibodies would help the particles selectively bind to tumors in the body, where they could release their payload. This targeted approach could minimize exposure of healthy cells to cancer drugs, reducing side effects.

Yunus Alapan Ugur Bozuyuk Metin Sitti


Rolling into the deep

  • 20 May 2020

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. They covered the ball-shaped microroller with a magnetic nanofilm on one side and with anti-cancer drugs on the other. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

Yunus Alapan Ugur Bozuyuk Pelin Erkoc Alp Can Karacakol Metin Sitti Linda Behringer


EML Webinar by Prof. Metin Sitti, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems

  • 20 May 2020

Our Director Metin Sitti hosted an Extreme Mechanical Letters (EML) Webinar with the topic "Soft-bodied Small-Scale Robots". The EML Webinars are a series of very prestigious lectures with many great speakers.

Metin Sitti


Reprogramming of macroscopic self-assembly with dynamic boundaries

  • 14 May 2020

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart aim to understand the underlying process of self-assembly. Their findings not only provide valuable insights into fundamental physics, but could enable the design of functional materials or self-assembled miniature robots.

Utku Culha Zoey Davidson Massimo Mastrangeli Metin Sitti Linda Behringer


Scientists outsmart nature by building super liquid-repellent dry adhesives

  • 28 April 2020

A specific fibril tip shape design is the key to achieving elastic dry fibril adhesives with super liquid repellency. This new bioinspired material opens up many possibilities for use, as it prevents any form of liquid droplet or layer from hindering or degrading its adhesion.

Ville Liimatainen Dirk Drotlef Donghoon Son Metin Sitti Linda Behringer


Underwater Snail-o-Bot gets kick from light

  • 26 February 2020

Light-fueled liquid crystal gels used to create robot inspired by aquatic invertebrates

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart in cooperation with Tampere University in Finland developed a gel-like robot inspired by sea slugs and snails they are able to steer with light. Much like the soft body of these aquatic invertebrates, the bioinspired robot is able to deform easily inside water when exposed to this energy source. Due to specifically aligned molecules of liquid crystal gels – its building material – and illumination of specific parts of the robot, it is able to crawl, walk, jump, and swim inside water. The scientists see their research project as an inspiration for other roboticists who struggle to design untethered soft robots that are able to move freely in a fluidic environment. Such inventions could one day play a pivotal role in the research field of minimally-invasive robotic medical applications.

Hamed Shahsavan Amirreza Aghakhani Metin Sitti Yubing Guo Linda Behringer


Acoustically driven microrobot outshines natural microswimmers

  • 03 February 2020

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart have designed and fabricated an untethered microrobot that can slip along either a flat or curved surface in a liquid when exposed to ultrasound waves. Its propulsion force is two to three orders of magnitude stronger than the propulsion force of natural microorganisms such as bacteria or algae. Additionally, it can transport cargo while swimming. The acoustically propelled robot hence has significant potential to revolutionize the future minimally invasive treatment of patients.

Amirreza Aghakhani Oncay Yasa Metin Sitti Linda Behringer


Yichao Tang receives Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

  • 16 December 2019

The scientist working in the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart will be supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for two years to continue his soft robotic research in Germany.

Yichao Tang Metin Sitti Linda Behringer


Jiachen Zhang receives Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

  • 22 July 2019

The scientist working in the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart will be supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for two years to continue his soft robotic research in Germany.

Jiachen Zhang


Jellyfish-inspired robot wins Best Paper Award in prestigious Robotics Science & Systems Conference

  • 02 July 2019

The scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart who invented Jellyfishbot win the Best Paper Award at a prestigious robotics conference and have their work published in Nature Communications. Their research holds great potential when investigating the impact of environmental changes in the ocean’s ecosystem. Another aim is for Jellyfishbot to be applied in the treatment of cancer.

Metin Sitti Xiaoguang Dong Wenqi Hu Ziyu Ren Tianlu Wang Linda Behringer Valerie Callaghan