Articles | 2021

Advanced Materials, 2021, 33 (4), 2002047

Trends in micro-/nano-robotics: Materials development, actuation, localization, and system integration for biomedical applications

Ben Wang, Kostas Kostarelos, Bradley J. Nelson, Li Zhang*

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Micro-/nanorobots (m-bots) have attracted significant interest due to their suitability for applications in biomedical engineering and environmental remediation. Particularly, their applications in in vivo diagnosis and intervention have been the focus of extensive research in recent years with various clinical imaging techniques being applied for localization and tracking. The successful integration of well-designed m-bots with surface functionalization, remote actuation systems, and imaging techniques becomes the crucial step toward biomedical applications, especially for the in vivo uses. This review thus addresses four different aspects of biomedical m-bots: design/fabrication, functionalization, actuation, and localization. The biomedical applications of the m-bots in diagnosis, sensing, microsurgery, targeted drug/cell delivery, thrombus ablation, and wound healing are reviewed from these viewpoints. The developed biomedical m-bot systems are comprehensively compared and evaluated based on their characteristics. The current challenges and the directions of future research in this field are summarized.