Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have developed 3D printedátiny 'microfish' that have propulsion mechanism, navigation, and even detoxification capabilities.
According to the scientists, the tiny microfish can swim through blood and even deliver targeted drug therapy.
The hydrogel microfish are developed with microscale continuous optical printing (μCOP) which allows the creation of complicated shapes and multiple functional areas.
The microfish moves forward with the help of platinum nanoparticles that react with hydrogen peroxide. A space on the front filled with iron oxide nanoparticles can be pulled on with a magnet to guide the fish in a particular direction.
The fish inactivates certain toxins withápolydiacetylene (PDA) nanoparticles. These nanoparticles produce a fluorescent glow when reacting with toxins, allowing their activity to be tracked and pointing to areas of high toxicity.
The research, led by Professors Shaochen Chen and Joseph Wang of the University, was published in the journal Advanced Materials.
"We have developed an entirely new method to engineer nature-inspired microscopic swimmers that have complex geometric structures and are smaller than the width of a human hair. With this method, we can easily integrate different functions inside these tiny robotic swimmers for a broad spectrum of applications," said Wei Zhu, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student in Chen's team.