Microbot origami to capture and transport single cells

Microbot origami to capture and move a single cells. Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University developed a way to assemble and reprogram the microscopic cube structures that will change shape when driven by a magnetic field. Micro robots are controlled using magnetic energy to perform various tasks, including capturing and transporting a single cell.

Tinuku Microbot origami to capture and transport single cells

The researchers report the latest findings in Science Advances that pave the way for micro-origami as a cell characterization tool, fluid micromixer, artificial muscle component and soft biomimetic device. The microscopic polymer cube allows the magnet to form a formation and is tasked to capture and transport a single cell.

"This research is about a topic of current interest - active particles which take energy from their environment and convert it into directional movement," said Orlin Velev, INVISTA Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State University.

The polymer cube is a modular object that can be reconfigured into countless forms. Each cube has one side coated with a metal layer and allows researchers to manipulate shapes and movements using a series of electromagnets that surround the microscope.

"Since they are magnetized and interacting, the cubes store energy. Tiny particles in the shape of cubes can attach together in sequences where they face in different directions to make, for example, clusters that behave like a tiny Pac-Man," Velvev said.

"You can open them by applying a magnetic field and then let them close by turning the magnetic field off. They close because they are releasing the stored magnetic energy. Thus, you inject internal energy every time you open the microclusters and release it when they close," Velvev said.

Tinuku.com Microbot origami to capture and transport single cells

The researchers gave Pac-Man small tasks such as capturing yeast cells. Microbots become box shapes and through open and close movements to surround living cells. The researchers then turned off the magnetic field and moved it.

"We've shown here a prototype of self-folding microbot, that can be used as a microtool to probe the response of specific types of cells, like cancer cells, for instance," Velev said.