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  1. Small soft robotic systems are being explored for myriad applications in medicine. Specifically, magnetically actuated microrobots capable of remote manipulation hold significant potential for the targeted delivery of therapeutics and biologicals. Much of previous efforts on microrobotics have been dedicated to locomotion in aqueous environments and hard surfaces. However, our human bodies are made of dense biological tissues, requiring researchers to develop new microrobotics that can locomote atop tissue surfaces. Tumbling microrobots are a sub-category of these devices capable of walking on surfaces guided by rotating magnetic fields. Using microrobots to deliver payloads to specific regions of sensitive tissues is a primary goal of medical microrobots. Central nervous system (CNS) tissues are a prime candidate given their delicate structure and highly region-specific function. Here we demonstrate surface walking of soft alginate capsules capable of moving on top of a rat cortex and mouse spinal cord ex vivo , demonstrating multi-location small molecule delivery to up to six different locations on each type of tissue with high spatial specificity. The softness of alginate gel prevents injuries that may arise from friction with CNS tissues during millirobot locomotion. Development of this technology may be useful in clinical and preclinical applications such asmore »drug delivery, neural stimulation, and diagnostic imaging.« less
  2. 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 targetedmore »drug delivery and other in vivo biomedical applications.« less
  3. This paper presents our work over the last decade in developing functional microrobotic systems, which include wireless actuation of microrobots to traverse complex surfaces, addition of sensing capabilities, and independent actuation of swarms of microrobots. We will discuss our work on the design, fabrication, and testing of a number of different mobile microrobots that are able to achieve these goals. These microrobots include the microscale magnetorestrictive asymmetric bimorph microrobot ( μ MAB), our first attempt at magnetic actuation in the microscale; the microscale tumbling microrobot ( μ TUM), our microrobot capable of traversing complex surfaces in both wet and dry conditions; and the micro-force sensing magnetic microrobot ( μ FSMM), which is capable of real-time micro-force sensing feedback to the user as well as intuitive wireless actuation. Additionally, we will present our latest results on using local magnetic field actuation for independent control of multiple microrobots in the same workspace for microassembly tasks.