Squishy Clockwork Biobot

Added to the Museum of Data by Jingyan Fu on Monday, October 19, 2020. Museum of Data Collection ID: 607.

Public description: Squishy Clockwork Biobot is soft and 3D-printed biocompatible micromachine can be implanted in the body to deliver doses of a chemo drug. It uses neither battery nor wires, and can be controlled from outside the body to deliver a dose on command. The team first had to invent a type of 3D printing to fabricate their tiny Geneva drive and several other soft micromachines. They came up with a fabricator that lays down layers of a hydrogel to produce rubbery solid shapes. While human hands are required to put the pieces together, those assembly steps could be automated. And it’s pretty quick, as is: The whole process of printing and assembling one Geneva drive takes less than 30 minutes. The squishy Geneva drive clicks forward when an external magnet moves a simple gear, which is just a rubbery piece with embedded iron nanoparticles (the black curved piece in the video below). With each click, one of six chambers lines up with a hole and a dose of medicine flows out. In the video, a magnet (the silver disk) keeps the device running continuously to demonstrate the mechanism, but in clinical use, a doctor could apply a magnet only when a dose is required. Soft and mobile little bots could one day act as internal repair crews, doing a doctor’s work from the inside.

Materials used: soft hydrogel

Credit: The lab of Samuel Sia, a professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, in New York City

Size: 5mm

Creation date: 2017/01/04 00:00:00

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