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Microrobots Inspired by Nature


Microrobots offer a wide range of potential treatments in healthcare.

Researchers at South Korea's Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology have designed microrobots that mimic the rowing action of the cilia present on single-celled Paramecia.

Credit: designua/123rf

Researchers at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in South Korea have developed microrobots that mimic the rowing action of the cilia present in the single-celled paramecium.

The DGIST team's microrobot is 220 micrometers long and 60 micrometers high, and it is equipped with eight 75-micrometer-long cilia on each side of its body.

The researchers built the microrobots up from a glass substrate using a three-dimensional laser lithography system, and later partially coated them with nickel and titanium deposits.

The machines were remotely triggered to move and orient with magnetic fields from eight electromagnetic coils.

The researchers overcame the "scallop theorem," which says if any movement forward is mirrored backwards, the object will remain in its original position, by applying a different magnetic field to the cilia during the recovery phase, changing their orientation relative to the power stroke and enabling the microrobot to efficiently move forward.

From Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology
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