Tiny "Bio-bots" Powered by Muscle Cells, Electrical Pulses
July 3, 2014 7:00 PM
comment(s) - last by
They're only about a centimeter in size
Tiny robots powered by muscle cells could one day take care of toxin neutralization and improve biological control systems.
Researchers at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
have created tiny "bio-bots" which run on muscle cells and are controlled with electrical pulses. When current is applied to their bio-based muscular engines, the robots can walk across a surface or even through a liquid.
Inspired by the muscle-tendon-bone complex, the researchers built the centimeter-sized bio-bots with a backbone made of 3D printed hydrogel. This backbone is strong, yet flexible enough to bend like a joint. Two posts serve to anchor a strip of muscle to the backbone, like tendons attach muscle to bone. The posts also act as feet for the bio-bot.
The speed of the
is controlled by adjusting the frequency of the electric pulses. More specifically, higher frequency causes the muscle to contract faster and speeds up the bio-bot’s progress.
“Biological actuation driven by cells is a fundamental need for any kind of biological machine you want to build,” said study leader Rashid Bashir, Abel Bliss Professor and head of Bioengineering at the U. of I.
“We’re trying to integrate these principles of engineering with biology in a way that can be used to design and develop biological machines and systems for environmental and medical applications. Biology is tremendously powerful, and if we can somehow learn to harness its advantages for useful applications, it could bring about a lot of great things.”
Prior to these bio-bots, the researchers created another set of bio-bots that walk on their own thanks to the power from beating heart cells of rats. However, researchers couldn't control the motion of the bots because heart cells constantly contract.
That's why they moved on to skeletal muscle cells, which are much more easily controlled.
Moving forward, the researchers would like to integrate neurons so the bio-bots can be steered in different directions with light or chemical gradients. They also hope to design a hydrogel backbone that allows the bio-bot to move in different directions based on different signals. Also, new shapes and designs will be researched quickly via 3D printing.
“The goal of 'building with biology' is not a new one - tissue engineering researchers have been working for many years to reverse engineer native tissue and organs, and this is very promising for medical applications,” said graduate student Ritu Raman, co-first author of the paper. “But why stop there? We can go beyond this by using the dynamic abilities of cells to self-organize and respond to environmental cues to forward engineer non-natural biological machines and systems."
These certainly aren't the first biological robots. In 2010, Harvard researchers debuted self-assembling
for medical purposes.
Earlier this year, University of Illinois researchers created part man, part machine
, which were touted as the first synthetic structures that can traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments on their own.
Illinois News Bureau
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
7/7/2014 12:24:23 PM
When you guys feel free to reveal the cure for cancer give me a call.... while i am still vertical.
Counting on you guys.... or do pharmaceutical companies count on you for profit more?
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
Part Man, Part Machine, "Spermbots" Swim Wild and Free
January 22, 2014, 2:31 PM
Harvard Debuts Self-assembling Biological Nanodevices
June 23, 2010, 9:16 AM
Creationists are Mad About Google Doodle Depicting Evolution
November 24, 2015, 8:48 PM
DHS and TSA: Whoops, We Missed That 73 Airport Employees May be Terrorists
November 19, 2015, 2:16 PM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information