April 3, 2024

Magnetic device controls nanorobots used in surgery

Editor's Note

Scientists have found a new way to more precisely control tiny robots used in surgeries using an oscillating magnet. The findings were published in the journal npj Robotics (part of the Nature Portfolio) on March 28. 

Nanorobots capable of transporting drugs, performing surgical procedures, or taking tissue measurements are already in development, but scientists have lacked a way to track and control these tiny robots with precision when they are inside the body. Now, a team of German researchers has developed a solution: a tiny device based on an oscillating magnet that allows for signals to be recorded with magnetic sensors. Researchers call the method Small-Scale Magneto-Oscillatory Localization (SMOL). It works similarly to magnetic resonance in MRIs and allows for highly precise tracking in real time.

The SMOL device is also compatible with many current devices, and is harmless to the body. It has already been integrated into miniature robots used in surgery, and the researchers note that there are many additional potential applications, including with endoscopes and radiotherapy. 

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