Apparently for many years now, scientists have been trying to create microscopic robots that will swim through our bodily fluids and repair damaged cells and/or deliver medicine. A group of scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems think they’ve FINALLY got it down with a design form of scallops that are so small that they can barely be seen by the human eye. These itsy-bitsy, tiny-winy micro-robo-scallops maneuver back and forth in order to swim through blood, eyeball fluids and other bodily liquids. The team of scientists believe that by mimicking the way an actual scallop swims would be an ideal method of movement, mainly due to several reasons.
REASON NUMBER 1: the repeating backward and forward movement is the best way to swim through non-Newtonian fluids — i.e., liquids that can grow thicker or thinner, depending on the situation — like our bodily fluids, and unlike water, whose viscosity remains the same at all times. Side note: oobleck is a great example too, which is the 1:1.5-2 mixture of water and cornstarch — just try it out for yourself; it’ll blow your mind! REASON NUMBER 2: these micro-scallops don’t need a lot of power be able to move that way, as they don’t need batteries or motors, only the energy provided by an external magnetic field.
The scientists have also stated that they don’t have a particular purpose in mind for their minuscule scallop. They are actually hoping that it becomes a reference design for other teams and companies that want to develop certain advanced medical technologies. If you want to read the detailed and scientific terminology-laden reports on thee micro-robots, head on over to Nature where the team’s paper was published.