This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Researchers at Cornell University have unveiled a micro-walking robot that operates by shining a laser beam of light and can deliver it anywhere in the human body.
The brain and other parts of the robot are made up of photovoltaic electrical circuits, while the legs are equipped with electrochemical actuators. The robot is 5 microns thick, 40 microns wide, and 40 to 70 microns long, and is about the size of a paramecium. The cost of mass production is low.
The legs are made by using atomic layer deposition and optical lithography techniques to coat one side of a platinum strip a few dozen atoms thick with an inert titanium film. When a positive charge is applied to it, negative ions from the surrounding solution gather on the platinum surface and try to equilibrate the electrification, which causes the platinum to expand and act to bend the leg.
By placing a patterned hard polymer on the leg, the researchers also made the polymer-to-polymer bend like a joint.
To move the robot, laser pulses are used to illuminate the robot's photovoltaic parts. By controlling the position of the pulses, the robot can move any of its legs, according to the researchers.
“While these robots are primitive in their function – they’re not very fast, they don’t have a lot of computational capability – the innovations that we made to make them compatible with standard microchip fabrication open the door to making these microscopic robots smart, fast and mass producible,” said Itai Cohen, professor of physics at Cornell University and one of the leaders of the research team.
The same manufacturing method as semiconductors means that mass production is possible using established methods. Taking advantage of the very small size, for example, researchers envision a future in which they could be injected into human blood vessels to remove vascular plaque or to study what happens in the gray matter where the cell bodies of neurons gather.
We can't reduce the size of a person or a submarine, but we may eventually have robots that swim inside the human body to the brain, like in the movie Fantastic Voyage.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.