SOFT MAGNETIC MICROROBOTS FOR TARGETED DRUG DELIVERY
Microrobots have a promising prospect to be used in healthcare and bioengineering applications due to their capability to gently access small and delicate body sites. Unfortunately, traditional materials used for the fabrication of microrobots are rigid, hindering safe operation due to the transfer of high stresses to the surrounding tissue. Additionally, traditional microrobots are often not biocompatible, which threatens the health of the patient if not properly retrieved. This dissertation describes the fabrication and actuation of small-scale (several micrometers in all dimensions) magnetic robots that are soft, biocompatible, and capable of moving over smooth and corrugated surface. Soft Magnetic Micro Robots (SMµRs) can carry payloads in their porous interior and release them using external magnetic inputs. SMµRs has therefore the potential to be used in a wide range of applications—including targeted drug release and remote biosensing and bio sampling—and access a number of difficult-to-reach sites in the human body, such as intestines or blood vessels. The structure of SMµRs consist of three thin layers: Two layers of polymer with embedded magnetic particles aligned along a preferential direction. One porous layer, in between the magnetic layers, where the SMµRs can accumulate and release payloads. SMµRs are small, light in weight, and fast and inexpensive to fabricate. Moreover, the manufacturing of SMµRs is compatible with large-scale production processes, facilitating their future commercial exploitation. Using external rotating magnetic fields, the position of the SMµRs can be controlled wirelessly via tumbling locomotion. We demonstrate two types of tumbling locomotion (length-wise and side-wise) as well as the possibility to release the internal payload of the SMµRs in a discrete or continuous manner using only changes in the intensity of the external magnetic field. We studied the performance of SMµRs under a variety of environmental conditions as well as their capability of overcoming obstacles.