This Incredible Tiny Robot Can Locate And Capture Individual Cells

The most recent piece of robotics genius is a small micro-motor that can recognize, capture, and transport individual cells. It's a significant engineering achievement with applications in everything from air purification to medicine.

Importantly, the gadget can be controlled by both electric and magnetic fields; the latter will be essential if the small robot is ever used inside the human body, as its creators hope.

The bot is built of a specially designed polystyrene sphere that is covered with the conductive metals chromium, nickel, and gold. Its size ranges from 5 to 27 micrometers.

"Biological micro-swimmers, such as bacteria and sperm cells, were the inspiration for developing the micro-robot's ability to move autonomously," explains mechanical engineer Gilad Yossifon from the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. This is a cutting-edge field of study that is expanding quickly and has a wide range of applications.

There is a long list of outstanding skills for this micro-motor. It can travel between cells, distinguish between various cell types, determine if a cell is healthy or dying, transport cells, and deliver medications or a particular gene to a cell.

The bot was employed by the researchers to collect a single bacteria, a single blood cell, and a single cancer cell. Although it hasn't been tested within the human body, one place where it may work well is there.

The micro-motor may someday be able to assist with some cancer therapies by recognizing cells that are dying themselves within the body since it naturally recognizes cell state through electrical impulses.

According to Yossifon, "Our new invention significantly advances technology in two key areas: hybrid propulsion and navigation by two distinct mechanisms, electric and magnetic."

The micro-robot also has a better capacity to locate and seize a single cell without the requirement for labeling, either for recovery and transfer to an external instrument or for local testing.

Single-cell analysis is one application where this new robot has a lot of potential. As the name implies, scientists study the behavior and characteristics of individual cells rather than the behavior of a larger biological system.

There is a lot of potential here; think of how many of these micromotors might transport medications within the body or remove contaminants from the environment.

According to the researchers, the novel device may also be useful in liquid biopsies, which are circumstances when blood or another sort of biological fluid has to be collected and examined.

According to Yossifon, "this research was done on biological samples in the lab for in-vitro assays, but the intention is to develop micro-robots that will also work inside the body in the future - for example, as effective drug carriers that can be precisely guided to the target."

The research has been published in Advanced Science.