Modeling and characterization of helices moving in thin channels
Design and demonstration of the traveling-wave actuator for viscous liquids
My research is focused on 'flow fields induced by moving boundaries' and 'general fluid-structure interaction in micro-realm'. During my PhD work, I studied the two-way coupling of hydrodynamics and rigid-body dynamics of bio-mimetic, e.g. bacteria-like, swimming microrobots. In the Physical Intelligence Departmant I will be working on multiphysics modeling, PIV visualization and control of swimming microrobots actuated in viscous liquids.
Miniaturization of interventional medical devices can leverage minimally invasive technologies by enabling operational resolution at cellular length scales with high precision and repeatability. Untethered micron-scale mobile robots can realize this by navigating and performing in hard-to-reach, confined and delicate inner body sites. However, such a complex task requires an integrated design and engineering strategy, where powering, control, environmental sensing, medical functionality and biodegradability need to be considered altogether. The present study reports a hydrogel-based, biodegradable microrobotic swimmer, which is responsive to the changes in its microenvironment for theranostic cargo delivery and release tasks. We design a double-helical magnetic microswimmer of 20 micrometers length, which is 3D-printed with complex geometrical and compositional features. At normal physiological concentrations, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) enzyme can entirely degrade the microswimmer body in 118 h to solubilized non-toxic products. The microswimmer can respond to the pathological concentrations of MMP-2 by swelling and thereby accelerating the release kinetics of the drug payload. Anti-ErbB 2 antibody-tagged magnetic nanoparticles released from the degraded microswimmers serve for targeted labeling of SKBR3 breast cancer cells to realize the potential of medical imaging of local tissue sites following the therapeutic intervention. These results represent a leap forward toward clinical medical microrobots that are capable of sensing, responding to the local pathological information, and performing specific therapeutic and diagnostic tasks as orderly executed operations using their smart composite material architectures.
Science Robotics, 3(17):eaar4423, Science Robotics, April 2018 (article)
Bacteria-propelled biohybrid microswimmers have recently shown to be able to actively transport and deliver cargos encapsulated into their synthetic constructs to specific regions locally. However, usage of synthetic materials as cargo carriers can result in inferior performance in load-carrying efficiency, biocompatibility, and biodegradability, impeding clinical translation of biohybrid microswimmers. Here, we report construction and external guidance of bacteria-driven microswimmers using red blood cells (RBCs; erythrocytes) as autologous cargo carriers for active and guided drug delivery. Multifunctional biohybrid microswimmers were fabricated by attachment of RBCs [loaded with anticancer doxorubicin drug molecules and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs)] to bioengineered motile bacteria, Escherichia coli MG1655, via biotin-avidin-biotin binding complex. Autonomous and on-board propulsion of biohybrid microswimmers was provided by bacteria, and their external magnetic guidance was enabled by SPIONs loaded into the RBCs. Furthermore, bacteria-driven RBC microswimmers displayed preserved deformability and attachment stability even after squeezing in microchannels smaller than their sizes, as in the case of bare RBCs. In addition, an on-demand light-activated hyperthermia termination switch was engineered for RBC microswimmers to control bacteria population after operations. RBCs, as biological and autologous cargo carriers in the biohybrid microswimmers, offer notable advantages in stability, deformability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability over synthetic cargo-carrier materials. The biohybrid microswimmer design presented here transforms RBCs from passive cargo carriers into active and guidable cargo carriers toward targeted drug and other cargo delivery applications in medicine.
Surface tension gradients induce Marangoni flow, which may be exploited for fluid transport. At the micrometer scale, these surface-driven flows can be more significant than those driven by pressure. By introducing fluid-fluid interfaces on the walls of microfluidic channels, we use surface tension gradients to drive bulk fluid flows. The gradients are specifically induced through thermal energy, exploiting the temperature dependence of a fluid-fluid interface to generate thermocapillary flow. In this report, we provide the design concept for a biocompatible, thermocapillary microchannel capable of being powered by solar irradiation. Using temperature gradients on the order of degrees Celsius per centimeter, we achieve fluid velocities on the order of millimeters per second. Following experimental observations, fluid dynamic models, and numerical simulation, we find that the fluid velocity is linearly proportional to the provided temperature gradient, enabling full control of the fluid flow within the microchannels.
Khalil, I. S. M., Tabak, A. F., Hamed, Y., Tawakol, M., Klingner, A., Gohary, N. E., Mizaikoff, B., Sitti, M.
IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(3):1703-1710, Febuary 2018 (article)
A soft two-tailed microrobot in low Reynolds number fluids does not achieve forward locomotion by identical tails regardless to its wiggling frequency. If the tails are nonidentical, zero forward locomotion is also observed at specific oscillation frequencies (which we refer to as the reversal frequencies), as the propulsive forces imparted to the fluid by each tail are almost equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. We find distinct reversal frequencies for the two-tailed microrobots based on their tail length ratio. At these frequencies, the microrobot achieves negligible net displacement under the influence of a periodic magnetic field. This observation allows us to fabricate groups of microrobots with tail length ratio of 1.24 ± 0.11, 1.48 ± 0.08, and 1.71 ± 0.09. We demonstrate selective actuation of microrobots based on prior characterization of their reversal frequencies. We also implement simultaneous flagellar propulsion of two microrobots and show that they can be controlled to swim along the same direction and opposite to each other using common periodic magnetic fields. In addition, independent motion control of two microrobots is achieved toward two different reference positions with average steady-state error of 110.1 ± 91.8 μm and 146.9 ± 105.9 μm.
Khalil, I. S. M., Mahdy, D., Sharkawy, A. E., Moustafa, R. R., Tabak, A. F., Mitwally, M. E., Hesham, S., Hamdi, N., Klingner, A., Mohamed, A., Sitti, M.
IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(2):1112-1119, January 2018 (article)
A simple way to mitigate the potential negative sideeffects associated with chemical lysis of a blood clot is to tear its fibrin network via mechanical rubbing using a helical robot. Here, we achieve mechanical rubbing of blood clots under ultrasound guidance and using external magnetic actuation. Position of the helical robot is determined using ultrasound feedback and used to control its motion toward the clot, whereas the volume of the clots is estimated simultaneously using visual feedback. We characterize the shear modulus and ultimate shear strength of the blood clots to predict their removal rate during rubbing. Our in vitro experiments show the ability to move the helical robot controllably toward clots using ultrasound feedback with average and maximum errors of 0.84 ± 0.41 and 2.15 mm, respectively, and achieve removal rate of -0.614 ± 0.303 mm3/min at room temperature (25 °C) and -0.482 ± 0.23 mm3/min at body temperature (37 °C), under the influence of two rotating dipole fields at frequency of 35 Hz. We also validate the effectiveness of mechanical rubbing by measuring the number of red blood cells and platelets past the clot. Our measurements show that rubbing achieves cell count of (46 ± 10.9) × 104 cell/ml, whereas the count in the absence of rubbing is (2 ± 1.41) × 104 cell/ml, after 40 min.
Advanced Science, 5(2):1700461, December 2017 (article)
Abstract Peritrichously flagellated Escherichia coli swim back and forth by wrapping their flagella together in a helical bundle. However, other monotrichous bacteria cannot swim back and forth with a single flagellum and planar wave propagation. Quantifying this observation, a magnetically driven soft two‐tailed microrobot capable of reversing its swimming direction without making a U‐turn trajectory or actively modifying the direction of wave propagation is designed and developed. The microrobot contains magnetic microparticles within the polymer matrix of its head and consists of two collinear, unequal, and opposite ultrathin tails. It is driven and steered using a uniform magnetic field along the direction of motion with a sinusoidally varying orthogonal component. Distinct reversal frequencies that enable selective and independent excitation of the first or the second tail of the microrobot based on their tail length ratio are found. While the first tail provides a propulsive force below one of the reversal frequencies, the second is almost passive, and the net propulsive force achieves flagellated motion along one direction. On the other hand, the second tail achieves flagellated propulsion along the opposite direction above the reversal frequency.
In International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2017, pages: 1907-1912, International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, September 2017 (inproceedings)
In travelling towards the oviducts, sperm cells undergo transitions between planar to helical flagellar propulsion by a beating tail based on the viscosity of the environment. In this work, we aim to model and mimic this behaviour in low Reynolds number fluids using externally actuated soft robotic sperms. We numerically investigate the effects of transition between planar to helical flagellar propulsion on the swimming characteristics of the robotic sperm using a model based on resistive-force theory to study the role of viscous forces on its flexible tail. Experimental results are obtained using robots that contain magnetic particles within the polymer matrix of its head and an ultra-thin flexible tail. The planar and helical flagellar propulsion are achieved using in-plane and out-of-plane uniform fields with sinusoidally varying components, respectively. We experimentally show that the swimming speed of the robotic sperm increases by a factor of 1.4 (fluid viscosity 5 Pa.s) when it undergoes a controlled transition between planar to helical flagellar propulsion, at relatively low actuation frequencies.
In 2017 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM), pages: 1117-1122, July 2017 (inproceedings)
Magnetic control of drug carriers using systems with open-configurations is essential to enable scaling to the size of in vivo applications. In this study, we demonstrate motion control of paramagnetic microparticles in a low Reynolds number fluid, using a permanent magnet-based robotic system with an open-configuration. The microparticles are controlled in three-dimensional (3D) space using a cylindrical NdFeB magnet that is fixed to the end-effector of a robotic arm. We develop a kinematic map between the position of the microparticles and the configuration of the robotic arm, and use this map as a basis of a closed-loop control system based on the position of the microparticles. Our experimental results show the ability of the robot configuration to control the exerted field gradient on the dipole of the microparticles, and achieve positioning in 3D space with maximum error of 300 µm and 600 µm in the steady-state during setpoint and trajectory tracking, respectively.
IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 2(2):927-934, IEEE, January 2017 (article)
The risk of side effects from thrombolytic agents can be minimized by using smaller doses, assisted by mechanical rubbing against blood clots using helical robots. Quantifying this observation, we study the influence of rubbing against clots on their removal rate in vitro. First, we present a hydrodynamic model of the helical robot based on the resistive-force theory to investigate the rubbing behavior of the clots using robot driven by two rotating dipole fields. Second, we experimentally evaluate the influence of the rubbing on the removal rate of the blood clots. Not only do we find that the removal rate of mechanical rubbing (-0.56 ± 0.27 mm3 /min) is approximately three times greater than the dissolution rate of chemical lysis using streptokinase (-0.17 ± 0.032 mm3/min), but we also show that this removal rate can be controlled via the rubbing speed of the robot.
Khalil, I. S., Tabak, A. F., Hosney, A., Klingner, A., Shalaby, M., Abdel-Kader, R. M., Serry, M., Sitti, M.
In Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), 2016 6th IEEE International Conference on, pages: 495-501, July 2016 (inproceedings)
Sperm-shaped microrobots are controlled under the influence of weak oscillating magnetic fields (milliTesla range) to selectively target cell mockups (i.e., gas bubbles with average diameter of 200 μm). The sperm-shaped microrobots are fabricated by electrospinning using a solution of polystyrene, dimethylformamide, and iron oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are concentrated within the head of the microrobot, and hence enable directional control along external magnetic fields. The magnetic dipole moment of the microrobot is characterized (using the flip-time technique) to be 1.4×10-11 A.m2, at magnetic field of 28 mT. In addition, the morphology of the microrobot is characterized using Scanning Electron Microscopy images. The characterized parameters and morphology are used in the simulation of the locomotion mechanism of the microrobot to prove that its motion depends on breaking the time-reversal symmetry, rather than pulling with the magnetic field gradient. We experimentally demonstrate that the microrobot can controllably follow S-shaped, U-shaped, and square paths, and selectively target the cell mockups using image guidance and under the influence of the oscillating magnetic fields.
Applied Physics Letters, 109(3):033701, AIP Publishing, July 2016 (article)
We investigate the microswimming behaviour of robotic sperms in viscous fluids. These robotic sperms are fabricated from polystyrene dissolved in dimethyl formamide and iron-oxide nanoparticles. This composition allows the nanoparticles to be concentrated within the bead of the robotic sperm and provide magnetic dipole, whereas the flexibility of the ultra-thin tail enables flagellated locomotion using magnetic fields in millitesla range. We show that these robotic sperms have similar morphology and swimming behaviour to those of sperm cells. Moreover, we show experimentally that our robotic sperms swim controllably at an average speed of approximately one body length per second (around 125 μm s−1), and they are relatively faster than the microswimmers that depend on planar wave propulsion in low-Reynolds number fluids.
In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2016 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1939-1944, May 2016 (inproceedings)
We use electrospinning to fabricate sperm-shaped magnetic microrobots with a range of diameters from 50 μm to 500 μm. The variables of the electrospinning operation (voltage, concentration of the solution, dynamic viscosity, and distance between the syringe needle and collector) to achieve beading effect are determined. This beading effect allows us to fabricate microrobots with similar morphology to that of sperm cells. The bead and the ultra-fine fiber resemble the morphology of the head and tail of the sperm cell, respectively. We incorporate iron oxide nanoparticles to the head of the sperm-shaped microrobot to provide a magnetic dipole moment. This dipole enables directional control under the influence of external magnetic fields. We also apply weak (less than 2 mT) oscillating magnetic fields to exert a magnetic torque on the magnetic head, and generate planar flagellar waves and flagellated swim. The average speed of the sperm-shaped microrobot is calculated to be 0.5 body lengths per second and 1 body lengths per second at frequencies of 5 Hz and 10 Hz, respectively. We also develop a model of the microrobot using elastohydrodynamics approach and Timoshenko-Rayleigh beam theory, and find good agreement with the experimental results.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems