About Microbots or Micro-robots
- Microbots are tiny automated machines with sizes of order less than a millimeter.
- They are basically a robot of the size of cell or say about 100 atoms.
- As a result of tiny sizes, microbot technology is seen as a disruptive technology especially in future biomedicine.
Principle and Working
- Microbots work on the same principle as that of an industrial robot.
- Primary components of a robot:
- A sensor to sense the stimuli from the environment
- An actuator to perform the mechanical actions like moving, lifting, dropping etc.
- A microcontroller to enable communication between sensors and actuators
- A power source to power all the parts of a robot
- A platform which houses all these parts
- A software that instructs working of various parts
Working of microbot
The major challenge of microbot is the tiny size.
- Designing actuators, capable of locomotion, of sizes of order of millimeter and less is the major challenge.
- The large robots use motors to perform this function.
The various ways in which microbots are designed are as follows
- Acoustic actuators
- In this method the microrobots are controlled and moved using sound-based stimuli.
- The sound wave produces pressure points in the medium in which the microbots are placed for locomotion function.
- Chemical actuators
- In this method chemicals are used to create changes in the environment that generates forces that move the microbots.
- Photo- actuators
- In this method a light based source like laser is used to create temperature differences that provides force for the microrobots to move, bend etc.
- Magnetic actuators
- In this method changing magnetic fields gives thrust to the actuators to perform locomotion functions.
Materials used for microbot fabrication
- Microbots require a revolution in material science to be able to fabricate materials suitable for robot design of such sizes.
- Silicon chips that are use in computers can be used as platform for housing the robots.
- Platinum and titanium can be used to design actuators.
- This is because platinum and titanium respond differently upon a force that is applied. (electrical force)
- Drug delivery
- Microbots are increasing seen as the technology of the future for drug delivery replacing the current invasive techniques.
- Eg: To destroy tumors in cancer, performing biopsy, destroy kidney stones, removing plaque in arteries and other surgeries.
- Microbots can be used to study nerve signals in brain.
- Microbots are seen as a solution to remove heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium etc. from water.
- Industrial applications
- Microbots can be used to perform cleaning operations in industrial machines, IC engines etc.
- Cleaning of batteries
- Microbots can be used to clean batteries of electronic devices thereby increasing the life of batteries.