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3D Printed Microscopic Robotic Fish
Nano-engineers at University of California, San Diego have been able to 3D print microscopic robots. They developed tiny robots shaped like fish. These are called microfish and are smaller than the width of human hair. Nanoparticles are added in various parts of the microfish to make them functional. Platinum nanoparticles installed in their tails help them propel forward. Magnetic nanoparticles installed in their head can be used to steer them.
The microfish are developed using a 3D printing technology called microscale continuous optical printing. This technology allows 3D printing hundreds of microfish within seconds. The shapes of the microbots to be changed, for example, to experiment with different shapes of fish such as sharks vs. ray fish, or experiment with other shapes such as birds.
According to Wei Zhu, a researcher developing the technology “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.” For example, toxic neutralizing particles can be included in the microfish to use them for detoxifying liquids. In future, this technology may allow delivery of medicine to specific parts of body via a blood stream.