University of Illinois researchers make walking ‘bio-bots’ from heart cells and hydrogels

bio-bot (nature)

Move over, robots. Researchers at the University of Illinois are working on a different kind of miniaturized locomotive walking machines, ones made from hydrogels and neonatal rat heart cells; what the team affectionately refers to as “bio-bots.” According to a new article in Nature, the scientists used lasers to carve a 3D print in a photosensitive pre-polymer solution, laying down the 2mm by 4mm bots’ scaffolding, then added a sheet of spontaneously-contracting heart cells. The result is that twice every three seconds a muscular sheet pumps the bot’s cantilevered “actuator leg,” pushing it around like a tiny skateboarder (video) through a liquid medium. After experimenting with a few different designs, the team managed to reach a top…

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