Magnetoelectric-controlled machines have overcome major hurdles - "Findings could one day revolutionise medicine"

03/27/2016 - 20:35

Astrid Tomczak-Plewka

Micro and nanorobots that attack tumors with maximum precision using drugs: this is what the fight against cancer may look like in the future. A group of ETH researchers led by Salvador Pané are laying the foundations with magnetoelectric-controlled Janus machines.

Salvador Pané was on a trolleybus in Zurich one day after work. He was deep in thought when the bus came to a sudden stop because the cable was disrupted.


Ref: Magnetoelectric micromachines with wirelessly controlled navigation and functionality. Materials Horizons (8 December 2015) | DOI: 10.1039/C5MH00259A


The use of a single energy source for both manipulating micromachines and triggering their functionalities will result in highly integrated devices and simplify the design of the controlling platform. Here, we demonstrate this concept employing magnetoelectric Janus particle-based micromachines, which are fabricated by coating SiO2 microspheres with a CoFe2O4–BaTiO3 bilayer composite. While the inner magnetic CoFe2O4 layer enables the micromachines to be maneuvered using low magnitude rotating magnetic fields, the magnetoelectric bilayer composite provides the ability to remotely generate electric charges upon the application of a time-varying magnetic field. To demonstrate the capabilities of these micromachines, noble metals such as Au, Ag and Pt are magnetoelectrochemically reduced from their corresponding precursor salts and form nanoparticles on the surface of the micromachines. Magnetoelectric micromachines are promising devices for their use as metal scavengers, cell stimulators and electric field-assisted drug delivery agents.