Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nanobots prepare for a 'Fantastic Voyage'

Wired reports: [edited]

An international team of scientists is developing what they say will be the world's first microrobot - the width of two human hairs - that can swim through the arteries and digestive system (the motor, ringed in red, is the size of a grain of salt).

The scientists are designing the 250-micron device to transmit images and deliver microscopic payloads to parts of the body outside the reach of existing catheter technology.

It will also perform minimally invasive microsurgeries, said James Friend of the Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory at Australia's Monash University, who leads the team. The researchers hope the device will reduce the risks normally associated with delicate surgical procedures.

Funded by the Australian Research Council, Friend's team is tweaking larger versions of the device, and expects to have a working prototype later this year and a completed version by 2009.

The scientists say stroke, embolism and vascular-disease patients should be the first to benefit from the new technology.

The tiny robot, small enough to pass through the heart and other organs, will be inserted using a syringe. Guided by remote control, it will swim to a site within the body to perform a series of tasks, then return to the point of entry where it can be extracted, again by syringe.

The microrobot's design is based on the E. coli bacterium, complete with flagella that will propel it through the body. Scientists will make the flagella out of human hair in the preliminary research stages, eventually they want to use Kevlar.

The piezoelectric materials vibrate a twisted microstructure inside the robot at ultrasonic frequencies. When the twisted structure is compressed against the rotor, it untwists and the rotor turns. As the compression is released, the twisted structure unwinds back to its original shape, while the rotor slides.

Thanks to John for the link.


soraneko said...

Nanobots are kawaii! (and useful... I suppose...)

Major Look said...

How big is the battery though! Imagine a 'D' size soldered to that baby!

That would smart a bit!