Newly Created Tiny Bio-Bots Run on Muscle Cells

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created small bio-bots powered by muscle cells and are controlled with electrical pulses.

When a current is passed to their bio-based muscular genes, the robots gain movement and can walk across a surface and even through a liquid.

One centimeter-sized bio-bots have been built with a backbone of 3D printed hydrogel. Plus point is that the backbone is strong and yet very flexible. To build the robot, researchers have got inspired by the muscle-tendon-bone complex.

By adjusting the frequency of the electric pulses, the speed of the bio-bots can be controlled. The bio-bots have been made in such a manner that higher frequency makes the muscle to contract faster and also increases the progress of the bio-bot.

Lead researcher Rashid Bashir, Abel Bliss Professor and head of Bioengineering at the university, stated, "We're trying to integrate these principles of engineering with biology in a way that can be used to design and develop biological machines and systems for environmental and medical applications".

Bashir believes that biology is a very powerful. Only requirement is to know how its advantages can be derived for useful applications. Before creating these bio-bots, researchers have developed another set of bio-bots.

These bio-bots walked on the basis of the power from beating heart cells of rats. But researchers were not able to control the motion of the bio-bots as heart cells used to contract constantly. It was then that the researchers moved to skeletal muscle cells.

Researchers are planning to integrate neuronsso that bio-bots can be moved in different directions with light or chemical ingredients. Through 3D printing, new shapes and designs will be researched quickly.