Scientists have created microscopic robots that could one day be injected into human bodies to perform surgery. They’re the first microscopic robots “Nanobots” made of semiconductor components, according to their creators from Cornell University. This means they can be made to walk using standard electronic signals.
Each robot has four legs comprised of tiny actuators, which are connected to patches of solar cells on the device’s chassis. When laser beams are shined on these patches, the legs bend to make the robot walk.
These micro-robots feature four legs composed from graphene or platinum and titanium; they’re described by Miskin as “super strong,” enabling the nanobots to.. Carry a body weighing about 8,000 times more than each leg. As well, each leg measures only 100 atoms thick, and they can carry bodies 1,000 times thicker, according to the researchers. Each robot has a 70-micron length, which is about the width of a thin human hair, and a million can be produced from a single 4-inch silicon composite wafer.
“Controlling a tiny robot is maybe as close as you can come to shrinking yourself down,” said study lead author Marc Miskin, a former postdoctoral researcher at Cornell. “I think machines like these are going to take us into all kinds of amazing worlds that are too small to see.”
The robots are small enough that swarms of them could be injected through a needle “Syringe” into a body. They could then travel through tissue and blood on their way stitch up blood vessels or probe the human vein. However, they still have to be controlled from the outside, for now. But they could someday be equipped with artificial ‘brains’ and batteries that allow them to roam autonomously.
At this point in the development process, the nanobots are solar-powered.. So that energy source limits how deep the robots could be injected into tissue. In the future, microscopic robots like the ones developed by Miskin and his colleagues may be used to.. Deliver drugs directly to injuries or tumors, but the solar energy requirement would be a major limitation.
In its place, future nanobots may be powered using magnetic fields or ultrasound.. Making it possible for them to travel deeply into the human body. While talking about the technology, Miskin said, “When I was a kid, I remember looking in a microscope, and seeing all this crazy stuff going on. Now we’re building stuff that’s active at that size. We don’t just have to watch this world. You can actually play in it.”
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