Created microscopic biorobots, set in motion by muscles and nerves

Muscle and Motion

Created microscopic biorobots driven by muscles and nerves

Researchers have developed soft robotic devices controlled by neuromuscular tissue that respond to light stimulation. The technology brings mechanical engineering closer to the creation of autonomous biorobots that act depending on environmental signals.

Bioengineers at the University of Illinois first created biobots in 2014. Previous variants moved with the help of rats’ cardiac tissues, but they simply floundered, not responding to external factors..

In a new study, the team presented the next generation of double-tailed microrobots working on grown skeletal muscle tissues, stimulated by motor neurons integrated into the synthetic skeleton that respond to light.

Created microscopic biorobots, set in motion by muscles and nerves

Using computer modeling, scientists have determined the optimal design of the biobot, the number of tails with which it is repelled, and their length, for the most efficient movement in water..

Although these mechanisms are still quite primitive, the ability to control muscle activity with neurons paves the way for to further development and complication of biohybrid systems.

Ultimately, the team plans to develop multicellular living engineering systems with the ability to intelligently respond to environmental signals that can be applied in bioengineering, medicine..

We also previously reported on the creation of artificial programmable material based on synthetic DNA, which is able to independently feed, organize and restructure itself in the process of growth.

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign