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Now You Can 'Build Your Own' Bio-Bot


Schematic of a bio-bot.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently shared their recipe for the construction of a class of walking "bio-bots" powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical pulses.

Credit: Janet Sinn-Hanlon

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have released their protocol for designing and building "bio-bots" powered by muscle cells and controlled with light and electrical signals.

They say the bio-bots are less than a centimeter in size and made of flexible three-dimensionally (3D)-printed hydrogels and living cells.

In 2012, the researchers demonstrated the bio-bots' ability to move on their own, powered by contracting heart cells from rats. A light-responsive skeletal muscle cell was genetically engineered to contract when stimulated by pulses of a certain wavelength of blue light. The skeletal muscle tissue was then coupled to a 3D-printed skeleton that moves in the direction of the optical pulses.

The team says the shared protocol includes every step of the building process as well as the materials needed, giving scientists around the world a framework for developing their own bio-bots.

From University of Illinois News Bureau
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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