Demystifying the Integration of Nanotechnology in Biorobotics



How nanotechnology is impacting the development of advanced biorobotic systems?

Nanotechnology has lured significant attention from both private and public organizations of all sizes and types. In recent years, it has attracted increasing investments from governments and industry worldwide. It helps engineers and researchers across the world to improve the current line of products, technologies as well as develop entirely novel functionalities. In biorobotics development, nanotechnology plays a crucial role. 

Biorobotics is an interdisciplinary scientific and technological field, involving a diverse array of disciplines with a myriad of applications. Biorobotic technologies are often used to assist to accommodate a deficiency, either as fully-functioning robots or highly advanced prosthetic.

According to a Journal of Nanoparticle Research, the main goals of biorobotics are to develop advanced mechatronic systems with enhanced performances and usability; advance the understanding of certain mechanisms and behaviors, typical of animals (included humans), by using robotic artifacts; and achieve effective and safe interactions such as new low invasive therapies with biological systems. To accomplish these goals, nanotechnology proves a vital allied, opening up unprecedented opportunities.

As per the report, the integration of nanotechnology in biorobotic systems currently is heading mainly in two directions. First, micro- and nanoscale components are more and more integrated and blended with traditional mechatronic architectures, concerning to provide additional functionalities. Second, there is a growing exploration of completely new designs and concepts for biorobotic devices and platforms, often driven by the unique properties of nanostructured materials and the interfaces with bio-assemblies. Both these trends are promising, in view of a partial revolution of mechatronic components and robotic systems at distinct length scales.

Already, biorobotics is being used in the healthcare domain, training surgeons and dentists using virtual environments to accelerate the learning process.


Robotics for Nanotechnology

Robotics for nanotechnology enables production in several types of items and operations. Nano-positioning robotics, or nanorobots, are used in a variety of processes. Nanorobots promise more opportunities, especially for biological and medical applications. They are typically intelligent systems, made of assemblies of nanoscale components. Nanorobots allow precise interactions with nanoscale objects, or can manipulate with nanoscale resolution. While nanorobots would be microscopic in size, it would probably be essential for very large numbers of them to work together to perform microscopic and macroscopic tasks.

Undeniably, the field of nanorobotics brings together different disciplines such as nanofabrication processes used for producing nanomotors, nanoactuators, nanosensors, and physical modeling at nanoscales. Credited to their size, comparable to biological cells, these robots facilitate a vast array of potential applications in fields, including environmental monitoring or medicine.

Along with substantial potential, the development of true nanorobots is a considerable challenge. But this field is mainly characterized by research efforts focused on design roadmaps and simulations. In the development of functional nanorobots, the most significant hindrances include the lack of suitable actuation technologies at the nanoscale; deficiency of miniaturized electronics, needed to acquire and elaborate signals from nanosensors; and nanoassembly and nanomanipulation issues.

In brief, advances in nanotechnology will significantly benefit micro- and nanorobots, as well as larger robotic devices, enabling them to perform complex tasks impossible to achieve by traditional devices.