Engineers develop laser-controlled, cell-sized robots

Researchers from Penn Engineering and Cornell are looking through this lens at an even more fundamental level: creating robotic systems that are on the scale of biological cells.

A square-shaped robot moves back and forth
One of the researchers’ robots next to a paramecium. (Image: Penn Engineering)

They have created the first microscopic robots that are made with semiconductor processing and can be controlled—and made to walk—with standard electronic signals. Roughly the size of a paramecium, they provide a template for building even more complex versions that can be mass produced and may someday travel through the human body.

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