How robotics is changing modern medicine. This week: Minuscule robot in the body
SCIENTISTS at the University of Manchester have created a ground-breaking mini robot that can build and manipulate molecules, paving the way for medical treatments and manufacturing.
At a millionth of a millimetre, the robots — made from 150 atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen — use a tiny arm, chemical reactions and program-like instructions from scientists to make compounds on demand.
Working on such a small scale reduces the need for materials and suggests the possibility of creating substances one building block at a time inside the human body. This could mean instead of visiting a pharmacist for your prescription, it could be synthesised by a tiny factory somewhere on your person.
And molecular factories could manufacture drugs on demand as medical problems arise.
Research leader Professor David Leigh, of the university’s School of Chemistry, claims the robots could be in use within one to two decades.