About Microbots or Micro-robots

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

Basic Principle

  • 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.

Actuators

  • 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.

Solution

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)

 

Applications

  • 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.
  • Neuroscience
    • Microbots can be used to study nerve signals in brain.
  • Pollution
    • 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.
Section : Science & Tech

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