Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Printing Out a Biological Machine

I stumbled across this article when searching for news on 3D-printing in biotechnology and noticed that it pertained to nano/microbots. Scientist U of IL have 3D printed tiny biological bots that are part hydrogel, part muscle cell. The gel forms a type of springboard that can flex back and forth. On the underside, there is a layer of heart muscle cells that form connections between one another. When stimulated, these muscle cells contract in unison, thus flexing the springboard and creating movement of the "bot." The researchers are looking into different ways to regulate the level of stimulation of the heart muscles; ideas for this include chemical stimulation, such as caffeine on the heart muscles to speed up contractions, or using light pulses to control when the cells contract.

I found this interesting because it related to struggles that we had on our device design project. Although it is on a much larger than non-scale, it is a very interesting idea to create movement for bots. It would also not face issues with bio-compatibility, assuming the heart muscle cells were taken from the same organism the bot was being used in.


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