Scientists tracked how a robot the size of a cell moves through the body

For such microrobots to be able to safely do their job, some must be larger than the biological

cells.In humans, a cell has an average diameter of 25 micrometers: one micrometer is one millionth of a meter. The smallest blood vessels in humans, the capillaries, are even thinner: their average diameter is only 8 micrometers.

Microrobots should be as small asto pass freely through the smallest blood vessels. But also at this size, they are impossible to see with the naked eye - and science has not yet found a technical solution to detect and track robots of this size individually as they circulate in the body.

Together with Metin Sitti, the world's leading experton microrobots, and other researchers, the team has made a breakthrough in merging microrobotics and imaging. For the first time, they have been able to detect and track tiny robots as small as five micrometers in real time. They were observed when the devices were in the brain vessels of mice.

Spherical microrobots consist of particles onbased on silica, as well as half nickel (Ni) and half gold (Au). The devices are also loaded with green-colored nanobubbles (liposomes).

The researchers have also developed special optical-acoustic tomography technology to track the tiny robots in high resolution and in real time.

This unique visualization method allowsfind tiny robots in deep and hard to reach areas of the body and brain. This would not be possible with optical microscopy or any other imaging modality.

The new method is called optoacoustic becausethat light is first emitted and then absorbed by the tissue. This produces tiny ultrasonic waves that can be captured and analyzed to produce high-resolution volumetric images.

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