Hong Kong researchers develop transformable nano-robots to perform medical tasks


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HONG KONG, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed a new way of controlling nano-robots, making them capable of doing complex tasks in minimally invasive surgeries, the finding was announced here Thursday.

Led by Zhang Li, associate professor of the university's Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, the team has implemented swarm behaviors on nano-robots, allowing controlled morphological changes and splitting.

Swarm behaviors such as bird flocks and fish schools are common in nature. Through communication, these elements can dramatically change the swarming shapes according to the environments they interact with.

Inspired by natural swarming behavior, the team has created an artificial microswarm via the dynamic self-assembly process of millions of magnetic nanoparticles. Through tuning the applied magnetic field, nano-robots can perform diverse and reversible morphological changes, including extension, shrinkage, splitting and merging.

Zhang said that nano-robots swarm can be programmed to help surgeons to do complex tasks such as passing through tiny spaces in human body.

The team is working together with the university's medical school to explore the potential for using nano-robots and the micro-robotic platform for clinical applications, he added.

The finding has been published in Nature Communications, an international scientific journal.

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