Nanorobots are devices typically ranging in size from 0.1 to 10 micrometers and constructed of nanoscale of molecules. As no non-biological nanorobots have so far been created, they remain a hypothetical concept but will turn into a reality in the near future. Increasing number of research groups are developing several disciplines like nano-fabrication, nano-sensors, nano-motors etc.
For now when we talk about nanorobots the reference is mostly to self propelled nano-motors and other biodegradable nano-devices made up of biodegradable components, which carry cargo of required materials to the target sites.
Table of Contents
How do Nanorobots work?
The main challenge engineers daunt is that a Nanorobot has to be small and agile enough to navigate the human circulatory system, carry medication to the affected area and navigate itself out of the body. While creating this complex microscopic device its navigation, power and its method of transportation has to be properly assessed.
Nanotechnologists are looking at different options regarding each of these considerations. Most of the planned navigation techniques can be divided into external systems and onboard systems. External Systems include Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Ultrasound waves, Radioactive dyes or X-rays and the Onboard or sensors will help in navigation using chemical trails and will be able to take sample of the tissue nearby to asses if it has reached the correct area.
Like navigating system, scientists are looking for ways to power the robot both externally and internally. The robots could use body heat as a source of their energy with the help of mounted electrodes. Another way could be reactions with chemicals on the robot and the bloodstream as its fuel. For external method a tethered system could be used.
Another challenge is to design its locomotion. It will need a means of strong propulsion to travel against the flow of blood sometimes. The system should also have negligible harms to the human body. To combat this scientists, inspired from protozoa, will be using appendages which will be manipulated with magnetic fields. Another potential way nano-robots could move around is by using a vibrating membrane. By alternately tightening and relaxing tension on a membrane, a nanorobot could generate small amounts of thrust for movements.
Types of Nanorobots
- Respirocytes – Respirocytes are the nano-robots designed as artificial l red blood cells which are spherical and about 1um. They carry oxygen and carbon-dioxide throughout the body. The respirocytes would deliver 236 times more oxygen to the body tissues compared to human red blood cells and would also manage the carbonic acidity.
- Microbivores – These nano-robots would function similar to white blood cells in our bodies, but at a much faster rate. This type of nano-robots should be able to eliminate bacterial infections in a patient within minutes, as opposed to the weeks required for antibiotics to take effect. Such robots might also be useful in destroying cancerous cells and thus curing it.
- Clottocytes – These robots function similarly to platelets in our blood which form a clot to stop blood flowing. This nano robot could significantly reduce blood loss. A system would store fibers which disperse to form a clot when a wound is recognized, internally or externally.
- Cellular repair nanorobots -These robots could be built to perform surgeries with accuracy as they work on a cellular level. These nano-robots could prevent much damage and reduce recovery time.
Nanorobots and Its Application in Medicine
Surgical nano-robots are introduced into the human body and these robots act as an on-site surgeon inside the human body. The robots are programmed or directed by a human surgeon to perform various functions like searching for pathogens, diagnosing and correction through coded ultrasound signals.
Diagnosis and testing
Medical nanorobots are used to diagnosis, test and monitor the functions of the body, microorganisms present, condition of tissues etc. They are able to note down the vitals and other observations for precisely diagnosing.
This type of nano-robots are applicable in treating genetic diseases, by relating to the DNA and proteins in the cell. They modify the irregularities in the DNA and protein sequences are then corrected. The chromosomal replacement therapy is very efficient. The nano-machine pulls the strand, unwinds it and compares to the information stored on the database.Abnormalities found in the structures are corrected, and the proteins reattached to DNA chain once again reforms into their original form.
Cancer Detection and Treatment
One of the most important aspect of nano-robots to achieve a successful treatment for patients is to efficiently deliver the targeted and significantly decrease the side effects from chemotherapy. Nano-robots with chemical biosensors can be used to perform detection of tumor cells in early stages and deliver the required drug to kill only the cancerous cells.
Nanorobots in dentistry induce oral analgesia, desensitizing tooth, manipulating the tissue to re-align and straighten irregular set of teeth. It involves many tissue engineering and major tooth repairs. They are also used to treat cavities and in general improve the durability of the tooth.
Management of diabetes
Correct level of glucose carried through the blood stream is the most important role to maintain the human metabolism. Maintaining proper and healthy lifestyle requires the glucose level to be within the standard limits. A sudden drop or extreme rise on its level can risk a patients life. Nano-robots can however constantly measure the blood glucose and alarm if it exceeds the limit.