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Microbots Reach Inner Space

Microbot When a patient takes a cancer medicine orally, the drug eventually finds its way to the cancer cells, but indiscriminately ends up killing healthy cells en route. A promising solution lies in the development of microscopic robots – microbots – that would be injected into the bloodstream and steered to the tumor through the magnetic forces of an MRI.

A major challenge has been fuel for propulsion. Scientists at the University of San Diego are working to overcome the problem by using the most abundant molecule in the human body as rocket fuel – water. They developed an aluminum alloy micro-motor that reacts with water, splitting the molecules and jetting hydrogen bubbles to propel forward at the speed of about 100 times its body length (or three city blocks for you) in one second.

Another major challenge is scale. The microbots have been refined to about sixty microns in length, but are still too large to enter some of the smallest blood vessels that lead to tumors.

Read more about microbots.
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