An Indian-origin scientist and his team have created a new spider-like micromachine that could swim through a person’s blood vessels, healing damaged areas and delivering drugs as it goes.
Ayusman Sen of Pennsylvania State University in University Park and his colleagues developed the self-propelling microspiders using spheres less than a micrometre wide, New Scientist reported.
Each sphere is made up of two halves – one hemisphere is gold, the other silica – and looks like a gold-and-silver Christmas bauble.
To turn the spheres into motors, the group attached a Grubbs catalyst – a molecule that builds long chains of smaller molecules – to the silica side.
When Sen drops his spheres into a solvent containing the chemical norbornene, the catalyst spins a polymer from molecules of the chemical.
The solvent rushes toward the gold side of the sphere, causing the whole sphere to move.
Next, Sen hopes to develop versions of these tiny aquatic spiders that run on chemicals readily available in the body, such as glucose.