Using Surface-Motions for Locomotion of Microscopic Robots in Viscous Fluids


Microscopic robots could perform tasks with high spatial precision, such as acting in biological tissues on the scale of individual cells, provided they can reach precise locations. This paper evaluates the feasibility of in vivo locomotion for micron-size robots. Two appealing methods rely only on surface motions: steady tangential motion and small amplitude oscillations. These methods contrast with common microorganism propulsion based on flagella or cilia, which are more likely to damage nearby cells if used by robots made of stiff materials. The power potentially available to robots in tissue supports speeds ranging from one to hundreds of microns per second, over the range of viscosities found in biological tissue. We discuss design trade-offs among propulsion method, speed, power, shear forces and robot shape, and relate those choices to robot task requirements. This study shows that realizing such locomotion requires substantial improvements in fabrication capabilities and material properties over current technology.Comment: 14 figures and two Quicktime animations of the locomotion methods described in the paper, each showing one period of the motion over a time of 0.5 milliseconds; version 2 has minor clarifications and corrected typo

    Similar works

    Full text


    Available Versions