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September 28, 2018

Hong Kong researchers create tiny soft robot for drug delivery

Researchers at City University of Hong Kong have developed a tiny, soft robot that can be potentially used for drug delivery inside the human body.

Researchers at City University of Hong Kong have developed a tiny, soft robot to be used for drug delivery inside the human body.

The robot to be used for drug delivery comprises numerous pointed legs which are less than 1mm long. These multi-legs are intended to minimise and allow efficient movement inside surfaces within the body.

In addition, it is made up of a silicon material and is embedded with magnetic particles, facilitating remote control through application of electromagnetic force.

City University of Hong Kong Mechanical Engineering department professor Wang Zuankai said: “The rugged surface and changing texture of different tissues inside the human body make transportation challenging.

“Our multi-legged robot shows an impressive performance in various terrains and hence open wide applications for drug delivery inside the body.”

When tested, the robot was able to lift up one end of its body to form an angle of up to 90° and easily cross an obstacle ten times higher than its leg length.

“Our multi-legged robot shows an impressive performance in various terrains and hence open wide applications for drug delivery inside the body.”

Furthermore, the robot can increase its speed by enhancing the electromagnetic frequency applied.

It can also carry heavy loads, and laboratory tests showed it to be capable of carrying a load 100 times heavier than itself.

City University of Hong Kong Biomedical Engineering department assistant professor Dr Shen Yajing said: “The amazingly strong carrying capability, efficient locomotion and good obstacle-crossing ability make this milli-robot extremely suitable for applications in a harsh environment, for example delivering a drug to a designated spot through the digestive system, or carrying out medical inspection.

“We are hoping to create a biodegradable robot in the next two to three years so it will decompose naturally after its meds delivery mission.”

Findings from the research have been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

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