Print 19 comment(s) - last by Amiga500.. on Jan 22 at 4:40 AM

New nanobots powered by tiny piezoelectric nanomotors may soon be swimming in the human bloodstream to hard-to-access areas like the brain.  (Source: University of South Carolina Beaufort)
New mini robots soon to be injected into humans

Modern medicine has yielded wonderful advances in cardiovascular surgery, which have saved many lives.  Where blood clots or plaque on arteries too delicate for cut and sew operations were once untreatable and ultimately fatal, surgeons can now use catheters to reach many of these locations. 

Unfortunately, though catheters have their shortcomings.  When navigating narrow arteries, they can sometimes accidentally prick the wall, puncturing it and triggering a fatal bleed.  And some areas, like cranial arteries in the brain, are to small and maze-like to reach with a catheter.

Enter the nanobots -- scientists at Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory at Australia's Monash University have developed tiny nanobot micromotors that are a mere quarter of a millimeter, powered by tiny piezoelectric motors, capable of swimming in the human bloodstream.  They are putting the finishing touches on the motors and readying them for clinical tests on animals and, before long, humans. 

While the team is still devising ways to remote control the new robots, they feel that they have a solid solution for an autonomous motor design in the form of piezoelectricity.  Piezoelectricity is the ability of devices to generate electric pulses based on mechanical movement or vibrations.  Piezoelectric devices include computer's clocks, electric guitar pickups, electric stove lighters, and some inkjet printer heads.

In the human body, the flow of blood provides abundant kinetic energy.  While a nanobot is too small to likely have a useful battery, it could exploit this kinetic energy to power tiny micromotors, the goal of the Australian researchers. 

Professor James Friend, leader of the research team at Monash University explains, "Opportunities for micro-motors abound in fields as diverse as biomedicine, electronics, aeronautics and the automotive industry. Responses to this need have been just as diverse, with designs developed using electromagnetic, electrostatic, thermal and osmotic driving forces. Piezoelectric designs however have favourable scaling characteristics and, in general, are simple designs, which have provided an excellent platform for the development of micro-motors."

He says motors have lagged behind other mechanical devices in development, stating, "If you pick up an electronics catalogue, you'll find all sorts of sensors, LEDs, memory chips, etc that represent the latest in technology and miniaturisation. Take a look however at the motors and there are few changes from the motors available in the 1950s."

The new micromotors will allow nanobots to reach places that previous minimally invasive surgery could not, like the human brain. 

The team has developed prototypes of the micromotors, which they describe in a journal article found in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

The next step is to develop more efficient assembly methods, and to devise ways to control the motors more accurately.  The team's work should be a natural fit, though for other researchers' designs, which feature useful arterial nanobots, but lack a system of propulsion.  The new work is similar to work by American researchers at Georgia Tech who are working to create blood-powered generators for implants.

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Bring on the Chili Cheese Dogs
By 7Enigma on 1/21/2009 9:44:20 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, now I can just scrub my arteries clean of all the sluge. No more exercise or healthy diet.

"Just rub it on the wall. If you can see through it you can eat it. It's your window to weight gain!"

-Quote heavily paraphrased from my absolutely favorite Simpson's episode ever (Homer attempts to go on disability due to obesity)

RE: Bring on the Chili Cheese Dogs
By 7Enigma on 1/21/2009 9:48:15 AM , Rating: 2
Oh man these fans have WAY too much time on their hands.

RE: Bring on the Chili Cheese Dogs
By 7Enigma on 1/21/2009 9:59:55 AM , Rating: 5
Dr. Nick: Now there are many options available for dangerously underweighted individuals like yourself. I recommend a slow steady gorging process combined with assal horizontology.

Homer: Of course.

Nick: You'll want to focus on the neglected food groups such as the whipped group, the congealed group and the chocotastic!

Homer: What can I do to speed the whole thing up, Doctor?

Nick: creative. Instead of making sandwiches with
bread, use poptarts. Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon,

Bart: You could brush your teeth with milkshakes!

Dr. Nick: Hey, did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too? And remember, if you're not sure about something, rub it against a piece of paper. If the paper turns clear, it's your window to weight gain. Bye bye, everybody!

(so I was off by a bit)

By Alias1431 on 1/21/2009 11:34:23 AM , Rating: 2
Just call, 1-800-DOCTORB!

The B is for bargain!

RE: Bring on the Chili Cheese Dogs
By 7Enigma on 1/21/2009 11:32:36 AM , Rating: 3
Marge: Let's quietly and calmly discuss the pros and cons of your controversial plan, shall we?

Homer: I --

Marge: Con! You're endangering your health.

Homer: Pro: I'm drought-and famine-resistant.

By MrPoletski on 1/21/2009 11:34:33 AM , Rating: 1
I always wondered actually...

If, somehow, you had a magic teleporter that could instantly teleport all the excess crud in your body..

Like cloggage in your intestines, sludge due to cholesterol in your bloodstream, excess mucus in your sinus and other areas, dead cells waiting for decomposition and evetual expulsion from the body, toxins, accumulated lung tar from smoking and everything down to the chemical level.

I wonder just how big a container I could fill..

I'm 5ft 10 (bout 176 cm) and have a 34" waist, weigh 13.5 stone. I am now, but in the past was very much not a health eater and have been skoing for 10 years.

My bet is I could fill litre bottle full of gunk!

Hmm, but can you imagine how much better I would feel after... not that I don't feel good now, because I do. But any persons idea of feeling 'good' is only what they can comprehend as good. If they have not experienced any better [for a long time] then normal is 'good' and anything worse than normal is bad.

Not a very useful read...
By Oralen on 1/21/2009 10:00:48 AM , Rating: 3
In the human body, the flow of blood provides abundant kinetic energy. While a nanobot is too small to likely have a useful battery, it could exploit this kinetic energy to power tiny micromotors, the goal of the Australian researchers.

And since that process will never have an efficiency of 100%... The energy produced would then be too weak for the micromotors to swim against that same blood flow. Therefore making the nano-robots useless... No?

I'm not trying to diminish the research those people are doing, but I am sick of news articles over-simplifying, and annoyed at big titles announcing breakthrough, as if all those things would be available tomorrow, and not in ten or twenty years, at best.

RE: Not a very useful read...
By 3DoubleD on 1/21/2009 10:44:23 AM , Rating: 3
Well this article is certainly guilty of over-hyping and over-simplifying.
Australia's Monash University have developed tiny nanobot micromotors that are a mere quarter of a millimeter, powered by tiny piezoelectric motors

First, a quarter of a millimeter is 250 micrometers or 250,000 nanometers. For this robot to even fit in the broad and vague category of "nanotechnology" it must be at LEAST under 100 nanometers.

Second, a true "nanobot" could never swim through the blood stream. As you approach the nanoscale your robot would succumb to Brownian motion. In fact, if you dropped a nanobot in air it wouldn't even hit the ground due to gravity. This isn't a strange idea though, we all have heard of airborne viruses.

The scare(or hype) of nanotechnology because of nanobots is completely ridiculous. The closest thing to nanobots we will have in the reasonable future are MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) or NEMS (Nanoelectromechanical Systems, however, the latter field is mostly a publicity stunt to get more funding money (eg. throw nano in front of anything and it makes the news... micro is so... yesterday). On the MEMS note, I was at a presentation where this student is building a MEMS fly (yes, just like the one in Get Smart). If he is successful I'd recommend he try building a MEMS octopus for the applications mentioned in the article.

RE: Not a very useful read...
By HrilL on 1/21/2009 11:06:49 AM , Rating: 3
I think you fail too realize that blood goes in a round trip. They don't need to swim against the blood. Since the blood will go back to the heart and then back out to the same places the bots will be able to go everywhere blood goes...

RE: Not a very useful read...
By Moritz on 1/21/2009 11:31:25 AM , Rating: 3
"nanobot micromotors that are a mere quarter of a millimeter"

LOL - 250 um is not a nanobot! it's hardly a MEM!
a quarter of a milimeter is not that small comparing to other bodies in your blood stream, in fact, it's a colossus.

And there is a little problem with such a big invasive thing in your body - your immune reaction! your body tends to be suspicious about foreign intruders like that..

it remains science fiction, we still have a big way to run...

You knew this was coming...
By JBird7986 on 1/21/2009 10:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is Futile.

These things are fantastically fascinating and scary all at the same time.

By bobsmith1492 on 1/21/2009 12:12:46 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering where the picture of 7of9 was on the article. I was quite certain it would be there.

Please enlighten me
By michaelmsr on 1/21/2009 3:28:53 PM , Rating: 2
This article focuses on the fact that a nanoscale motor can be created. I'm fine with that. But for what purpose? Perhaps I missed something. The article seems to be a bit fuzzy on what comes after placing such a motor in the person. Does it just keep circulating through the bloodstream and taking up space? Or does it do something useful once it gets in there? Are these tiny motors intended to be used as drug delivery vehicles? They would only be good for a one-time application.
What then?

RE: Please enlighten me
By SnakeBlitzken on 1/21/2009 4:31:05 PM , Rating: 2
It's like the roomba. It just keeps circulating and vacumming. I don't know. The article never really says what they intend to do with these. Maybe the researches haven't thought that far ahead.

By nah on 1/21/2009 10:55:19 AM , Rating: 2
Fantastic Voyage come true--another feather for Asimov

Misplaced comma
By ggordonliddy on 1/21/2009 6:36:30 PM , Rating: 1
Unfortunately, though catheters have their shortcomings.

Sigh. Please move the comma from before "though" to after it, so the sentence makes sense. (Come on! This is really basic stuff!)

RE: Misplaced comma
By Hieyeck on 1/21/2009 7:54:06 PM , Rating: 1
Here's the worst part of it: he already deleted the orginal article this morning because he didn't check the title.

"Scientists Ready New New Nanobots to Swim in Human Blood Stream"

So new, it's new new. I only wish I had a screenshot of the journalistic integrity :(

Heart Disease
By casket on 1/21/2009 11:27:29 PM , Rating: 2
Heart Disease was cured 15 years ago by Nobel Prize winning doctor Linus Pauling. Vitamin C plus Lysine increases collagen production and healing ability and reverses atherosclerosis.

By Amiga500 on 1/22/2009 4:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
The ship from inner space?!?! :-)

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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