Congratulations to our alumni Xinjian Fan, who was just awarded as one of the top ten Ph.D. graduates in Harbin Institute of Technology, China.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, develop artificial cilia that can be programmed to move in waves. In experiments, the researchers show how the millimeter-small cilia can pump viscous liquids just as effectively as their natural counterparts. Their research helps shed light on the mystery regarding which movement pattern generates a maximal fluid flow. Published in Science Advances, their findings contribute to a better understanding of the biomechanics of real cilia, and to the development of miniature robotic pumping devices that could one day be used inside the human body.
A Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Sitti is one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of physical intelligence. He is a pioneer in several areas of research, among them wireless tiny medical robots, gecko-inspired adhesives, and bio-inspired miniature robots.
Our immune system generally protects us from pathogens but sometimes it can work against us by eliminating drugs or other therapeutics circulating in our bloodstream
An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the Max Planck Institutes for Intelligent Systems and Solid State Research has developed a biocompatible microswimmer made of carbon nitride, which they can propel forward through light. The particle can also store solar energy similar to miniature solar cells equipped with batteries, and can thus also swim in the dark using the stored energy. Even if the illumination is turned off, it can move forward for about half an hour with just 30 seconds of prior illumination. The photo-charging ability of this newly developed microswimmer opens up many opportunities for targeted drug delivery, environmental remediation, and other potential applications for such photo-chargeable micro- and nanomachines.
A soft material that heals itself instantaneously is now reality. A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and at Pennsylvania State University tune the nanostructure of a new stretchable material in such a way that it now entirely recovers its structure and properties at the blink of an eye after being cut or poked. The squid-inspired material could revolutionize the research field of soft robotics. Since it can reverse any undergone damage, it makes many real-world applications possible in which robots have to deal with dynamic and unpredictable environments.
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.
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.
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.