Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

These Bots were made for Walking: Cells Power Biological Machines

16.11.2012
They’re soft, biocompatible, about 7 millimeters long – and, incredibly, able to walk by themselves. Miniature “bio-bots” developed at the University of Illinois are making tracks in synthetic biology.

Designing non-electronic biological machines has been a riddle that scientists at the interface of biology and engineering have struggled to solve. The walking bio-bots demonstrate the Illinois team’s ability to forward-engineer functional machines using only hydrogel, heart cells and a 3-D printer.

With an altered design, the bio-bots could be customized for specific applications in medicine, energy or the environment. The research team, led by U. of I. professor Rashid Bashir, published its results in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The idea is that, by being able to design with biological structures, we can harness the power of cells and nature to address challenges facing society,” said Bashir, an Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering. “As engineers, we’ve always built things with hard materials, materials that are very predictable. Yet there are a lot of applications where nature solves a problem in such an elegant way. Can we replicate some of that if we can understand how to put things together with cells?”

The key to the bio-bots’ locomotion is asymmetry. Resembling a tiny springboard, each bot has one long, thin leg resting on a stout supporting leg. The thin leg is covered with rat cardiac cells. When the heart cells beat, the long leg pulses, propelling the bio-bot forward.

The team uses a 3-D printing method common in rapid prototyping to make the main body of the bot from hydrogel, a soft gelatin-like polymer. This approach allowed the researchers to explore various conformations and adjust their design for maximum speed. The ease of quickly altering design also will allow them to build and test other configurations with an eye toward potential applications.

For example, Bashir envisions the bio-bots being used for drug screening or chemical analysis, since the bots’ motion can indicate how the cells are responding to the environment. By integrating cells that respond to certain stimuli, such as chemical gradients, the bio-bots could be used as sensors.

“Our goal is to see if we can get this thing to move toward chemical gradients, so we could eventually design something that can look for a specific toxin and then try to neutralize it,” said Bashir, who also is a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and of bioengineering. “Now you can think about a sensor that’s moving and constantly sampling and doing something useful, in medicine and the environment. The applications could be many, depending on what cell types we use and where we want to go with it.”

Next, the team will work to enhance control and function, such as integrating neurons to direct motion or cells that respond to light. They are also working on creating robots of different shapes, different numbers of legs, and robots that could climb slopes or steps.

“The idea here is that you can do it by forward-engineering,” said Bashir, who is the director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory. “We have the design rules to make these millimeter-scale shapes and different physical architectures, which hasn’t been done with this level of control. What we want to do now is add more functionality to it.”

“I think we are just beginning to scratch the surface in this regard,” said graduate student Vincent Chan, first author of the paper. “That is what’s so exciting about this technology – to be able to exploit some of nature’s unique capabilities and utilize it for other beneficial purposes or functions.”

The National Science Foundation supported this work through a Science and Technology Center (Emergent Behavior of Integrated Cellular Systems).

Graduate student Mitchell Collens, postdoctoral researcher Kidong Park, chemical and biological engineering professor Hyunjoon Kong, and mechanical science and engineering professor Taher Saif were co-authors of the paper. Bashir also is affiliated with the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory and the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I.

Editor’s notes: To reach Rashid Bashir, call 217-333-3097; email rbashir@illinois.edu.

The paper, “Development of miniaturized walking biological machines,” is available online:

http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/121115/srep00857/full/srep00857.html

Liz Ahlberg | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
19.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries
19.06.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Überdosis Calcium

Nanokristalle beeinflussen die Differenzierung von Stammzellen während der Knochenbildung

Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler der Universitäten Freiburg und Basel haben einen Hauptschalter für die Regeneration von Knochengewebe identifiziert....

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 in Shanghai

Die AchemAsia geht in ihr viertes Jahrzehnt und bricht auf zu neuen Ufern: Das International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production findet vom 21. bis 23. Mai 2019 in Shanghai, China statt. Gleichzeitig erhält die Veranstaltung ein aktuelles Profil: Die elfte Ausgabe fokussiert auf Themen, die für Chinas Prozessindustrie besonders relevant sind, und legt den Schwerpunkt auf Nachhaltigkeit und Innovation.

1989 wurde die AchemAsia als Spin-Off der ACHEMA ins Leben gerufen, um die Bedürfnisse der sich damals noch entwickelnden Iindustrie in China zu erfüllen. Seit...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: Li-Fi erstmals für das industrielle Internet der Dinge getestet

Mit einer Abschlusspräsentation im BMW Werk München wurde das BMBF-geförderte Projekt OWICELLS erfolgreich abgeschlossen. Dabei wurde eine Li-Fi Kommunikation zu einem mobilen Roboter in einer 5x5m² Fertigungszelle demonstriert, der produktionsübliche Vorgänge durchführt (Teile schweißen, umlegen und prüfen). Die robuste, optische Drahtlosübertragung beruht auf räumlicher Diversität, d.h. Daten werden von mehreren LEDs und mehreren Photodioden gleichzeitig gesendet und empfangen. Das System kann Daten mit mehr als 100 Mbit/s und fünf Millisekunden Latenz übertragen.

Moderne Produktionstechniken in der Automobilindustrie müssen flexibler werden, um sich an individuelle Kundenwünsche anpassen zu können. Forscher untersuchen...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industrie & Wirtschaft
Veranstaltungen

Hengstberger-Symposium zur Sternentstehung

19.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

LymphomKompetenz KOMPAKT: Neues vom EHA2018

19.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

Simulierter Eingriff am virtuellen Herzen

18.06.2018 | Veranstaltungen

VideoLinks
Wissenschaft & Forschung
Weitere VideoLinks im Überblick >>>
 
Aktuelle Beiträge

Rätselhaftes IceCube-Ereignis könnte von Tau-Neutrino stammen

19.06.2018 | Physik Astronomie

Automatisierung und Produktionstechnik – Wandlungsfähig – Präzise – Digital

19.06.2018 | Messenachrichten

Überdosis Calcium

19.06.2018 | Medizin Gesundheit

Weitere B2B-VideoLinks
IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics