Author: Divine Eche
In February of 2022, researchers at Cornell University rocked the science world with the creation of their microscopic injectable robots. Despite their nanoscopic size, these robots have the potential to revolutionize the technological sphere and our understanding of the human body; this is partly because our most important biological processes occur at the nanoscale.
What are Injectable Nanobots?
Developed through nanofabrication, nanobots are microscopic functioning robots with the ability to walk and withstand harsh environments. They can be injected into the body using a hypodermic syringe. Each robot has a 70 micron length, comparable to the length of a thin human hair, and can be produced from a single 4-inch silicon composite wafer. These microbots feature four legs composed from graphene or platinum, and titanium. Each leg measures only 1100 atoms thick and can carry bodies 1000 times thicker.
Nanofabrication is a term used to describe the design and manufacture of devices to the nearest nanometer. A novel technique was developed by Marc Miskin and his colleagues at Cornell; the team spent years developing a multistep nanofabrication technique that would produce a million nanobots from the specialized 4-inch silicon wafer in the span of weeks.
The microscopic walking robots were first revealed to the public in 2019 via youtube: the 38 second long video showcases the tiny robots moving around. This movement is caused by a laser that is shined on one of the robot’s solar power cells, powering it. As a result, the platinum in the leg expands while the titanium remains rigid, causing the leg to bend.
The Future of Nanotechnology
Miskin and his team have various plans for their army of microrobots. Currently, teams at both Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania are developing smart versions of these nanobots. These upgraded versions will feature onboard sensors, clocks, and controllers. The current version of the nanobot is solar powered. This energy source limits how deep the robots can be injected into the tissue. In the future, nanobots may be powered using magnetic fields or ultrasound, making it possible for them to travel deep into the body. Furthermore, these microscopic robots may be used to map the brain and deliver drugs directly to injuries or tumors.
To conclude, the creation of injectable nanobots opens the door for many possibilities in the health world: nanotechnology can allow us to gain information about the human body from an entirely new perspective. Miskin and his team will continue to improve their design with the hopes that one day their technology will be accepted and implemented.
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APSphysics. (2019, March 7). New cell-sized micro robots might make incredible journeys. EurekAlert! Retrieved April 16, 2022, from https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/816436
YouTube. (2019). Microscopic Walking Robots. YouTube. Retrieved April 16, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5djEI-1E8I.