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You can’t even see the world’s smallest medical robot, but your body’s cells know it’s there

You can’t even see the world’s smallest medical robot, but your body’s cells know it’s there
[Animation: rawpixel/Unsplash; rawpixel]

The world’s smallest medical robot cannot be seen with the human eye. That didn’t stop the judges from letting it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

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The 120-nanometer-sized robot is the creation of Soutik Betal, who was completing his doctoral research at the University of Texas at San Antonio under the guidance of professors Ruyan Guo and Amar S. Bhalla. The team members are now official record holders in the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the smallest medical robot.

The “robot” is technically a series of nanocomposite particles of two different types of multifunctional oxide materials that can be remotely controlled by an electromagnetic field.

Take a second to digest that. There’s more.

According to a statement from the newly minted record holders, the robot functions “like extremely tiny robots that interact with biological cells.” Now that it has entered the only record book that matters, the hope is that the robots can get on with the business of treating cancer and Alzheimer’s disease by pushing targeted cells around and possibly delivering medication directly into a cell.

Betal, Guo, and Bhalla published their work early this year in Nature–Scientific Reports, but while most academics can publish a study, very, few get a spot in Guinness alongside fingernail guy, the Big Mac enthusiast, a speedy finger snapper, my friend Jeff, and a man willing to let a chainsaw near his face.

Betal will definitely be the star of his next science conference.

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