A Tumbling Magnetic Microrobot System for Biomedical Applications

Micromachines (Basel). 2020 Sep 17;11(9):861. doi: 10.3390/mi11090861.


A microrobot system comprising an untethered tumbling magnetic microrobot, a two-degree-of-freedom rotating permanent magnet, and an ultrasound imaging system has been developed for in vitro and in vivo biomedical applications. The microrobot tumbles end-over-end in a net forward motion due to applied magnetic torque from the rotating magnet. By turning the rotational axis of the magnet, two-dimensional directional control is possible and the microrobot was steered along various trajectories, including a circular path and P-shaped path. The microrobot is capable of moving over the unstructured terrain within a murine colon in in vitro, in situ, and in vivo conditions, as well as a porcine colon in ex vivo conditions. High-frequency ultrasound imaging allows for real-time determination of the microrobot's position while it is optically occluded by animal tissue. When coated with a fluorescein payload, the microrobot was shown to release the majority of the payload over a 1-h time period in phosphate-buffered saline. Cytotoxicity tests demonstrated that the microrobot's constituent materials, SU-8 and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), did not show a statistically significant difference in toxicity to murine fibroblasts from the negative control, even when the materials were doped with magnetic neodymium microparticles. The microrobot system's capabilities make it promising for targeted drug delivery and other in vivo biomedical applications.

Keywords: biomedical microrobots; drug delivery; magnetic microrobots.