Magnetic control

MRI robotThink of MRI and most people think of medical scanning, the kind of analytical tool that can slice through your brain or other organs, virtually speaking, and produce a three-dimensiona view of your innards. But researchers in Canada are putting the magnetic in magnetic resonance imaging to a different. They hope to use it to control tiny robot devices that can be guided through blood vessels in an application reminiscent of 1960s sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage.

The demonstration by Sylvain Martel of the NanoRobotics Laboratory at Montreal Polytechnic School could herald the emergence of a new form of surgery that uses MRI to control “untethered” devices within the body. The team has spent the last several years developing microelectrochemical systems (MEMS) that could be used in diagnostics and treatment and have now successfully guided, an inactive prototype device for the first time through an artery (see picture) using computer-controlled MRI. More details here.

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Award-winning freelance science writer, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rockstar.