New system may one day steer microrobots through blood vessels for disease treatment

December 16, 2011

Researchers use a magnetic field to generate both side-to-side and corkscrew-like motions of tiny robots.

Microscopic-scale medical robots represent a promising new type of therapeutic technology. As envisioned, the microbots, which are less than one millimeter in size, might someday be able to travel throughout the to deliver drugs to specific targets or seek out and destroy tumors, blood clots, and infections that can't be easily accessed in other ways.

One challenge in the deployment of microbots, however, is developing a system to accurately "drive" them and maneuver them through the complex and convoluted circulatory system, to a chosen destination. Researchers from Korea's Hanyang University in Seoul and Chonnam National University in Gwangju now describe, in the AIP's Proceedings of the 56th Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, a new navigation system that uses an to generate two distinct types of microbot movements: "helical", or corkscrew-like, motions, which propel the microbots forward or backward, or even allow them to "dig" into or other obstructions; and "translational," or side-to-side motions, which allow the 'bots to, for example, veer into one side of a branched artery.

In lab tests, the researchers used the system to accurately steer a microbot through a mock blood vessel filled with water. The work, the researchers say, could be extended to the "precise and effective manipulation of a microbot in several organs of the human body, such as the , the urinary system, the eye, and others."

Explore further: Robots big and small showcase their skills at NIST Alaskan events (w/ Video)

More information: "Magnetic Navigation Systems for the Precise Helical and Translational Motions of a Microrobot in Human Blood Vessels" is part of the Proceedings of the 56th Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials, to be published in the Journal of Applied Physics in April.

Related Stories

Using magnets to help prevent heart attacks

June 7, 2011

If a person's blood becomes too thick it can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attacks. But a Temple University physicist has discovered that he can thin the human blood by subjecting it to a magnetic field.

Is Your Microrobot Up for the (NIST) Challenge?

October 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The scientists and engineers who introduced the world to tiny robots demonstrating soccer skills are creating the next level of friendly competition designed to advance microrobotics -- the field devoted ...

Substance in cancer medicine could prevent heart attacks

November 23, 2011

A substance in medicines for cancer and epilepsy could also prevent heart attacks, according to researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who have been using it to stimulate the body's ...

Can MRI drive a medical robot?

October 3, 2011

Engineers at Children’s Hospital Boston have demonstrated the ability to program the magnetic field generated by a clinical MRI scanner to motorize and control a robotic instrument – in this case, a surgical biopsy ...

Recommended for you

Electron highway inside crystal

December 8, 2016

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their ...

Researchers improve qubit lifetime for quantum computers

December 8, 2016

An international team of scientists has succeeded in making further improvements to the lifetime of superconducting quantum circuits. An important prerequisite for the realization of high-performance quantum computers is ...

A nano-roundabout for light

December 8, 2016

Just like in normal road traffic, crossings are indispensable in optical signal processing. In order to avoid collisions, a clear traffic rule is required. A new method has now been developed at TU Wien to provide such a ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ScienceFreak86
not rated yet Dec 16, 2011
Singularity is near, Ray Kurzweil most insane predictions slowly(step by step)...are coming.
Nanobanano
5 / 5 (2) Dec 16, 2011
Singularity is near, Ray Kurzweil most insane predictions slowly(step by step)...are coming.


I coudl envision clothing with solar PV cells on the outside, lined with small electromagnets on the inside and computer control systems to guide permanent nano-bots through the blood stream of the entire body.

Some sort of implant could be devised which would filter the blood to sort back out the nano-bots, and then interface with them to reprogram and re-charge them from the excess solar power.

The ability to perform targetted removal of plaque/cholesterol, viruses, bacteria, and cancers from the blood stream would be beyond anything yet imagined in medicine.
Intensero
5 / 5 (1) Dec 16, 2011
Can't wait for more info on this...keep up the good work!:-)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.