Bashir leads study to develop bio-bots

ECE News

Daniel Dexter, ECE ILLINOIS
2/15/2017 12:09:40 PM

Story Highlights

ECE affiliate professor Rashid Bashir and his team in the bioengineering department led a study into the development of bio-bots powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical optical pulses.

Schematic of a bio-bot: Engineered skeletal muscle tissue is coupled to a 3D printed flexible skeleton. Optical stimulation of the muscle tissue, which is genetically engineered to contract in response to blue light, makes the bio-bot walk across a surface in the direction of the light. Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Photo by R&D Magazine
Schematic of a bio-bot: Engineered skeletal muscle tissue is coupled to a 3D printed flexible skeleton. Optical stimulation of the muscle tissue, which is genetically engineered to contract in response to blue light, makes the bio-bot walk across a surface in the direction of the light. Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Photo by R&D Magazine

The team of researchers published papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which detail a step-by-step process for other scientists to replicate the process to build their own bio-bots.

“The purpose of the paper was to provide the detailed recipes and protocols so that others can easily duplicate the work and help to further permeate the idea of 'building with biology'—so that other researchers and educators can have the tools and the knowledge to build these bio-hybrid systems and attempt to address challenges in health, medicine and environment that we face as a society,” Bashir told R&D magazine.

This discovery has creates unique opportunities for the future of machine-behavior, which includes self-assembly and self-healing. The technology, according to the study, has the potential to adapt to environmental signals in real time.

Ritu Raman, a postdoctoral in the bioengineering department and a researcher on this study, attributed the success of bio-bot creation to the “3D printing revolution.” Raman told R&D Magazine that 3D printing gave the team the tools necessary to create skeletal muscle rings that could be used in the bio-bots.

Media Contact

Julia Sullivan

Assistant Director of Communications
1064 ECE Building
(217) 300-3731
juliams@illinois.edu

Todd Sweet

Director of Communications
1066 ECE Building
(217) 333-5943
tmsweet@illinois.edu