On April 5, 2023, the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society Brac University Student Branch Chapter, in collaboration with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering under the BSRM School of Engineering, Brac University, hosted a seminar titled “The Future of Microrobots in Medicine-Ultrasound Technology” at Brac University premises. The seminar shared a vivid introduction of microrobots, their recent developments and future aspects. Professor Arshad M. Chowdhury, Ph.D., Dean of the BSRM School of Engineering at Brac University, was there as the Special Guest. Furthermore, prominent faculty members from the Department of EEE, namely Associate Professor Dr. Belal Bhuian, Lecturer Nahid Hossain Taz, Lecturer Raihana Shams Islam Antara, and Abdulla Hil Kafi, Chapter Advisor IEEE AESS BracU SBC attended the seminar. Additionally, students from many different disciplines namely EEE, CSE, APE, Biotechnology took part in the seminar.

Microrobots are miniature robots that carry out tasks on a microscale. Microrobots have tremendous potential for targeted drug delivery, wound healing, cancer treatment, and minimally invasive surgery in health and medical research. The delivery of growth factors and other nutrients by microrobots can accelerate wound healing. In addition, microrobots can be utilized in minimally invasive procedures, facilitating access to difficult body regions for surgeons. Ultrasound is a cutting-edge method for operating micro and nanorobots due to its ability to permeate tissues. Consequently, ultrasound makes the control of microrobots appealing. Microrobots that are controlled by ultrasound move cells and deliver medications more effectively. Firstly, it targets cells and organs in order to minimize adverse effects and maximize efficiency. Secondly, non-invasive surgery without incisions reduces the risk of infection and the recovery period. Finally, it facilitates tissue development and diagnostics by translating forces on cells and tissues.

This seminar’s keynote speaker was Assistant Professor Daniel Ahmed, a leading researcher in the field. Daniel Ahmed is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich. Moreover, he leads the Acoustic Robotic Systems Laboratory (ARSL). In addition, he specializes in the development of ultrasound-based microrobots for applications in life sciences, diagnostics, and translational medicine. He obtained Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Pennsylvania State University, U.S. Furthermore, he has published 35 articles in prestigious scientific journals, including Nature Communication, Nature Machine Intelligence, Science Advances, Nano Letters, Advanced Materials, and Science Robotics. Besides that, he has contributed to the proceedings of 15 conferences, and his research has been featured on the front and rear covers of 7 prestigious journals and in more than 100 media outlets. Furthermore, he has been awarded multiple grants as an independent principal investigator, including the ERC Starting Grant in 2020, and won the Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year of 2021 in Engineering and Technology. 

Daniel Ahmed commenced his lecture by mentioning the various potential uses of microrobots in drug delivery, tissue repair, and targeted therapy. The technique, which is called “acoustic bubble physics,” is an effective way to control microrobots within the human body that use acoustic power . By using acoustic waves to produce bubbles around the microrobots researchers can generate thrust and control their movement’s direction and velocity. He discussed new motion principles such as biomimicry, microswarms rolling along acoustic virtual walls, ultrasound-activated shape-shifting materials, and acoustically activated transformable soft matter. These forms of motion are influenced by the movements of bacteria, stingrays, and other organisms in nature. By replicating these movements in microbots, researchers can construct highly efficient and effective machines capable of navigating complex environments and reaching specific locations within the body.

One of the most exciting and recent developments in microrobotics is Acoustofluidic Rotational Tweezers (ART). This method manipulates tiny particles, including microrobots, in a fluid using acoustic vibrations. He mentioned that traditional oral drug delivery can cause side effects and may not be highly effective. But employing microbots to deliver drugs precisely to the targeted area can be an alternative solution to. The most common cancer treatment is systemic chemotherapy, which has severe side effects and often kills healthy cells. However, microrobots could change this strategy by directly delivering drugs to tumor tissue. Vivo acoustic manipulation is an additional promising technique discussed during the seminar. This technique utilizes ultrasound to generate a pressure gradient within the body, which can be used to send microrobots to specific locations or control their movement and orientation. By manipulating microrobots inside the body with acoustic waves, researchers can construct highly precise and effective treatments for a variety of medical conditions. From drug delivery to tissue repair, these machines have the potential to revolutionize the medical field and save countless lives throughout the world.

Currently, the majority of drugs are given orally, which can cause adverse effects and is frequently ineffective because it fails to target the affected area. Microbots have the potential to alter this by delivering medicines precisely to the targeted area. Using acoustic power and other sophisticated techniques, researchers can control the movement and direction of the microbots, ensuring that they reach the targeted area and discharge the drug in a precise and controlled manner. This can result in more effective therapies with fewer adverse effects. Microbots have the potential to revolutionize the fields of tissue repair and drug delivery. Researchers are currently investigating the possibility of using microbots to repair damaged tissues, such as cartilage and muscle. Furthermore, researchers can control the movement and orientation of microbots using acoustic power and other techniques, allowing them to navigate complex environments and reach the desired location. Currently, the majority of cancer treatments involve systemic chemotherapy, which frequently leads to the destruction of healthy cells and can have severe adverse effects. Microbots have the potential to alter this by transporting drugs precisely and directly to the site of the tumor. This can result in more effective treatments with fewer adverse effects and less cell damage.

Researchers are developing machines that are smarter, more effective, and more efficient than ever before by combining cutting-edge technology with a thorough grasp of the fundamentals of biology and physics. The field of microrobotics is still in its infancy, presenting an exciting opportunity for researchers and scientists to explore innovative avenues that could potentially revolutionize medical science technology. With vast possibilities and uncharted territories waiting to be explored, the development of advanced microrobots has the potential to bring about a new era in healthcare, marking a significant milestone in the progress of medical science. He concluded his lecture by stating, “Microrobots are the key to a world where anything is possible, from diagnostics to medical translation.”

The seminar concluded with a lively question-and-answer session between the speaker and participants. In addition, he inspired participants to engage in the development of microrobots and to initiate a new change that will eventually benefit humanity. Following that, Abdulla Hil Kafi, the Chapter Advisor for IEEE AESS BracU SBC, gave a brief overview of the IEEE AESS BracU SBC. Last but not least, Professor Arshad M. Chowdhury, Ph.D., Dean of the BSRM School of Engineering, Brac University, presented a crest to the speaker as a sign of appreciation.