We all know that eating fish is good for your health, but what about fish shaped robots?
In a study published this month in Advanced Materials, researchers from UC San Diego announced that they’d figured out a way to 3D print tiny microrobots in the shape of fish.
The fish are just 120 microns long and 30 microns thick, much smaller than a human hair. Researchers can 3D print hundreds of the fish in seconds. The fish are printed with tiny particles of platinum in the tail which react with hydrogen peroxide. When the microfish are placed in peroxide, the tails move, propelling the fish along. The scientists can also add other particles to the materials used to print the fish, including chemicals that can detect and absorb toxins like bee venom.
In the study, they showed that the microfish could detoxify a liquid contaminated with a toxin. As the fish work, they glow red, and the swimming motion helps make sure they don’t miss a drop of the contaminant.
These fish are just a proof of concept. They won’t be used outside of a lab for a long time yet, but their creators have very high hopes for the fish.
“This method has made it easier for us to test different designs for these microrobots and to test different nanoparticles to insert new functional elements into these tiny structures. It’s my personal hope to further this research to eventually develop surgical microrobots that operate safer and with more precision,” one of the microfish inventors Jinxing Li said in a press release. Other possible applications include delivering drugs to targeted areas of the body, or removing toxins.
And those future drug deliveries or detoxifying treatments don’t have to be done with simple fish-shaped bots. The researchers can also make printed manta rays or sharks, and could eventually even print bird shaped microbots.
Clearly, this means that one day your doctor could ask you to swallow these sharks and call her in the morning…and it wouldn’t be fishy at all.