Back to the future with a Technion ‘Fantastic Voyage’

The research was published in Science Robotics and led by Prof. Alex Leshansky of Technion’s Wolfson School of Chemical Engineering.

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May 3, 2018 02:29
1 minute read.
Back to the future with a Technion ‘Fantastic Voyage’

Alex Leshansky . (photo credit: Courtesy)

Fifty two years after the movie Fantastic Voyage showed humans in a shrunken submarine navigating through arteries and veins, the optimal configuration of tiny robots that could travel through the body and perform medical tasks has been developed by scientists at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology.

An interdisciplinary study conducted in three faculties at Haifa’s Technion developed a model that the researchers say is superior to previous models that occur in nature.

The research was published in Science Robotics and led by Prof. Alex Leshansky of Technion’s Wolfson School of Chemical Engineering.

Many research groups around the world have been working over the past decade to develop nanoscaleand micro-robots that travel in a liquid environment, because such robots can contribute much to the world of medicine, for example in transporting drugs.

The first source of inspiration for the development of tiny robots is the movement of bacteria, which move using a thin spiral whip (flagellum).

The rotation of the flagellum inside fluid creates friction that propels the bacteria. Inspired by this natural mechanism, these groups developed tiny coils driven by a rotating magnetic field.

This method has several advantages, including the low field strength required to do so. Because the production of tiny coils is a complex process, it has recently been suggested to use random clusters of magnetic nanoparticles as tiny swimmers.

The new study shows that this does not lead to optimal results.

In the research, the Technion researchers developed a theory that allows one to calculate the optimum movement speed of magnetic swimmers depending on the shape and magnetism


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