2017-present, Zhenan Bao Lab
Our human body is a dynamic system, with inherent molecular signaling, tissue growth, and organ motion across different time scales and physical dimensions. However, conventional electronics and robotics are usually made with rigid components and limited adaptability, which limits their versatility for safe and precise operation. My research addresses these challenges by adapting interdisciplinarity approaches to build an ecosystem consisting of biomimetic soft electronics and microrobots that can sense, grow, transform, or locomote within living systems for precise diagnosis and personalized treatment.
Morphing electronics enable neuromodulation in growing tissue
Y. Liu†, J. Li†, S. Song†, P. M. George, Z. Bao et al. Nature Biotechnology, 2020.
We developed a chronic and neurologically implantable morphing electronic device (MorphE) capable of
actively adapting to in vivo tissue growth and providing neuromodulation.
A Transformation-Intelligent Elastomer Soft Robot (TIE Bot).
J. Li, V. Mottini, Y. Liu, X. Yan, Y. Wang, Y. Zheng, Z. Bao* et al.
Knots have excited interest since ancient times for both practical used and their topological intricacy in mathematics. I invented the first soft robot that can be programmed to knot itself. This fully polymeric soft robot will play an essential role for building next generation artificial muscles and organs.
(2012-2017, Joe Wang Lab, in collaboration with Prof. Liangfang Zhang)
University of California San Diego
University of California San Diego
from locomotion to biomedical applications
Robotics deals with automated machines that can locomote themselves and operate tasks in various environments over many orders of magnitudes in scale. One of the most inspiring goals is the construction of smart and powerful nanorobotic systems for the operation in the human body. However, viscous forces dominate inertial forces at such small scales, leading to the “low-Reynolds number challenge” for nanoscale propulsion. My research at Prof. Joe Wang Lab is to create multi-functional nanorobots which can overcome this challenge by utilizing local chemical reactions or external field actuation to achieve efficient movement and perform tasks in biological matrices. With selectively engineered materials, the nanorobots possess numerous attractive properties, including precise motion control, self-organization, biocompatibility, biodegradability, high loading capacity, and the ability to autonomously release of payloads ‘on-the-fly’. The increased capabilities and sophistication of these tiny robots hold considerable promise for a variety of biomedical applications ranging from drug delivery to minimally invasive surgery.
Rocket science at the nanoscale
I established the "Body Deformation" propulsion mechanism of bubble-powered micro/nanorockets that can achieve highly powerful swimming at low Reynold numbers.
Towards the Fantastic Voyage:
Micromotor enabled Autonomous Medicine FOR GASTRIC INTESTINAL DELIVERY
We employ self-propelling microrobot as an active delivery technique that autonomously and precisely transports the therapeutic agents inside live animal’s gastrointestinal tract. These microrobots can modulate the local physiological environment, enhance the drug retention, and eventually improving therapeutic efficacy for bacterial infection treatment. This technique opens the door for micro/nanorobots as an active delivery platform for medical treatment and is promising for a wide range of personalized diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
INSpired From the nature:
Wireless Nanorobots powered by External fields
Bio-inspired wireless nanorobot have been built with efficient locomotion, adaptive operation, collective regulation, and eventually biological function towards operation in whole blood for bio-threat cleaning.
State of the Art:
Engineering applications for micro/nanorobots
We explore the versatility of functional micro/nanorobots to perform diverse tasks including writing (nanolithography), reading (superresolution imaging), destroying (warfare agents), and repairing (surface cracks), all at the micro/nanoscale.
2009-2012, Yongfeng Mei & Ran Liu Lab
Deterministic self-assembly, demanded in nanotechnology, needs a highly precise control of driving forces and energy minimization at the nanoscale, which has been applied in the macro-level, for example, capillary origami and 3D devices. My research at Prof. Yongfeng Mei Lab has been focusing on thinning, shaping, and rolling artificial free sheets to create novel 3D fine structures and devices such as self-propelled nanomachines, optofluidic sensors and flexible semiconductor thin films. We push the downscale limitation of rolled-up nanotech by straining engineering with the assistance from surface forces to create extremely small (<100 nm) and complex 3D nanoarchitectures with tailored surface chemistry and nano-topography. Our methodology offers a great opportunity for mechanical deformation, such as folding, bending, buckling, and zipping, in nanoscale self-assembly, and may enable solid nanomembranes becoming an essential building blocks in flexible electronics, and lab-on-a-chip micro/nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS).