Nano Robots are all set to influence our lives in a ways that were unimaginable before a decade. They are quicker in response and can kill the diseases more efficiently. Not only this, they are going to change the space technologies for better too. This post will discuss Nano Robots, its functions, components, powering methods, manufacturing approaches, applications, advantages and disadvantages.
What is Nano Robotics
The possibility of Nano robots (Nanobots) was first proposed by Richard Fey man and the word nanotechnology was popularized by K Eric Drexler in 1980.
Nano Robotics is an emerging Nano technology wherein a tiny machine or robot(s) are designed to perform a number of tasks continuously with a precision of Nano scale dimension, i.e. 1 nm=10-9 meter.
Fig. 1 – Nano Robotics
A Nano robot allows precision interaction with Nano scale objects. The main element here is a form of Carbon popularly known as Diamond. Diamond is used here because of its strength and chemical inertia.
Nano robots are Nano devices that are mainly used to protect the human body against the pathogens. Nano robots are very sensitive to acoustic signals and they can be programmed using the sound waves to perform specified tasks.
They can work at atomic, molecular and cellular level in both medical and industrial field to build devices, machines or circuits known as molecular manufacturing. Nano robots can also self-replicate to replace the worn out units.
Functions of Nano Robots
The functions of Nano Robots include:
- Information Processing and programmability
- Swarm Intelligence
- Cooperative Behavior
- Self-Assembly and Replication
- Nano to macro world interface architecture
Components of Nano Robots
Fig. 2 – Components of Nano Robots
Nano Robotics has following components:
- Power Supply: Supplier of energy for the device operation and function
- Payload: This section carries small dosage of medicine.
- Swimming Tails and Fins: Required for the propulsion and navigation of Nano Robot in the body
- Ultrasonic Signal Generator: Required for targeting and destroying kidney stones
- Camera: Required for navigating Nano robot through the body
- Lasers: Burns the harmful materials like cancer cells, blood clot, etc.
Methods of Powering a Nano Robot
A Nano robot can be powered by using the following:
- Chemical reactions with blood
- Tethered power sources
- Non-tethered power source
Manufacturing Approaches for Nano Robots
There are two types of manufacturing approaches for Nano Robots. They are:
- Bacteria Based
Bacteria Based Manufacturing of Nano Robots
For this approach, the use of biological micro-organism bacterium E-coli is used. A flagellum is used for propulsion by this model and electromagnetic field is applied to control the motion for this kind of approach.
Nubots Based Manufacturing of Nano Robots
“Nucleic acid robots” or Nubots is one of the first approach. The first Nubots were organic molecular machines at the Nano scale and also known as “DNA Machine”. It is a molecular machine constructed from DNA.
A 2D and 3D Nano mechanical devices are assembled through the DNA structure. It is activated using small molecules, proteins and other molecules of DNA.
Applications of Nano Robots
They are used mainly in the field of medicine and space technology. Its various applications include:
Assistance in Surgery
Surgical Nanobot acts as semi-autonomous onsite surgeon inside the human body which is programmed by the human surgeon. These Nanobots helps in the search of pathogens inside the human body and also helps in diagnosis and correction of lesions inside the body.
Fig. 3 – Nanobots in Surgery
Field of Hematology
Ongoing research is going in this field. When an emergency trauma occurs and artificial oxygen supply is required, then special Nano robots (known as Respirocytes) are injected into the blood stream to transport the respiratory gases until the patient stabilizes. This Respirocytes acts as artificial red blood cells in the human body.
Clottocyte is an another form of Nanobot which acts as natural platelet. Platelet is a clotting ability that forms a natural barrier when someone bleeds. The Clottocyte carries a small mesh net that dissolves once it get contact with the blood plasma.
Fight Against Cancer
Helps in early detection of cancer. An embedded chemical sensors can be designed to detect tumor cells in the human body. An interface report can be produced by positioning Nano robots which travels through the body and provides the information. These information can be utilized for monitoring and healing purpose.
Fig. 4 – Nano Robots in Cancer Detection and Treatment
They can also be utilized for therapy purpose. Since the current cancer treatment has severe side effects, the Nanobots do the targeted treatment, wherein the healthy cells are not destroyed like the current treatment does.
Nano robots with protein based sensors are able to transmit real time information in places where laboratory analysis is unavailable and public infrastructure is limited.
These Nano robots are really helpful in areas when an epidemic disease outbreak occurs and also in remote and war torn countries to provide successful screening.
For example: in case of influenza outbreak in an area, the increased concentration of enzyme alpha-naga in the bloodstream can be used as a bio-marker for the detection of infection. This concentration will trigger the Nano robots which in turn will send electromagnetic signals to a portable device like mobile phones. This information may then be re-transmitted through a telecommunication system that provides information of the infected person’s location.
Treatment of Arteriosclerosis
Arteriosclerosis is a condition where a plaque builds along the walls of arteries. Nano robots treat this condition by cutting away the plaque and releasing chemicals to the injury site.
Fig. 5 – Nano Robots in Treatment of Arteriosclerosis
Removal of Kidney Stones
A Nano robot could break up large kidney stones using small lasers. A small ultra-sonic signal is generated directly to kidney stones and hereby it gets crushed and pass through the urine.
Fig. 6 – Treatment of Kidney Stones by Nano Robots
Treatment in Dentistry
Nanobots helps in straightening of irregular teeth, oral anesthesia, tooth repairing, desensitizing of tooth, improvement of appearance of teeth, etc.
Fig. 7 – Nano Robots in Dentistry
Used for Breaking of Blood Clots
Blood clots causes from strokes to death. A Nanobot travels to a clot and breaks it up.
For Space Technology
- Can be used to repair the damaged suit materials when the astronauts are on field.
- Used for measuring toxic elements in the environment.
- Space colonizing (yet to be implemented).
- Formation of swarms by Nanobots where it can change its shape according to the environment (yet to be implemented).
Advantages of Nano Robots
The advantages of Nano Robots include:
- Small in size.
- They can remain operational for decades.
- Rapid elimination of diseases.
- Detection is very easy and results are accurate.
- Lesser side effect.
- Surgery can be avoided.
- Painless and easy treatment.
- Ease of programming and external control.
Disadvantages of Nano Robots
The disadvantages of Nano Robots include:
- Replication may become out of control.
- Dependency upon computer.
- Expensive and difficult to manufacture.
- Must carry own payload.
- Chances of affecting human health by introducing toxicity in blood.
- Accuracy is crucial otherwise harmful events may occur.
- Design of Nanobot is complicated.
- Sometimes Nanobots goes out of control in human body.