Looking to take advantage of sperm's awesome swimming ability, researchers have cyborg-ized bull semen by positioning them inside tiny metal cylinders that can be steered with magnets. This means we now have a way to control a cell's direction inside the body — a breakthrough that could lead to efficient microscopic robots.

To make the "biohybrid micro-robot," Oliver Schmidt and colleagues captured and trapped bull sperm inside magnetic microtubes a mere 50x8 microns in size. The head of the sperm rests inside the metallic device, while the tail, or flagellum, remains outside.

With the mobility aspect taken care of, the researchers were able to orient the microtubes using external magnetic fields. The process works similarly to how a compass needle aligns with Earth's magnetic field.


According to the researchers, this option is attractive because the biohybrid micro-robots are harmless to the human body, they provide their own power, and they can swim through viscous liquids.


"The combination of a biological power source and a microdevice is a compelling approach to the development of new microrobotic devices with fascinating future application," write the researchers in the study.

Read the entire study at Advanced Materials: "Development of a Sperm-Flagella Driven Micro-Bio-Robot".


Images: Schmidt et al./Advanced Materials.