Plasmonic Nanosensors and Antennas for Signal Transduction and Energy Harvesting for Biomedical Microrobots

Project: Research

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Based on light-induced oscillations of electrons, surface plasmons generated from metallic nanoparticles or other nanostructures have been proposed for intracellular exploration such as optical detection of mRNA in living cells, gene delivery and regulation, rapid precision molecule diagnostics, and other in vitro and in vivo biomedical applications. Making these plasmonic structures movable in a controlled manner using microrobots as carriers will remarkably broaden their capability for scanning or mapping the stimuli, entering or leaving from a cell, and targeting a specific area of interest. Based on this insight, the objective of this project is to investigate the integration of plasmonic nanostructures onto microrobotic carriers for extending their potentials to serve as mobile transducers for molecule detection, as antennas for boosting the energy harvesting efficiency for microrobots, and heating spots for thermal therapy. Specifically, three tasks are planned: (1) Design, optimization and fabrication of plasmonic detectors of molecules, (2) Integration of plasmonic antennas onto helical microrobots for enabling molecule mapping, and (3) Superposition of plasmonic devices with dimer microrobot swarms for boosting energy harvested for thermal therapy. Simulations using finitedifference time-domain (FDTD) will be applied to evaluate and optimization of the design. Plasmonic nanostructures will be fabricated onto microrobots by rolling up prestressed bilayers with nanoparticle arrays. Microrobotic swarms will be formed with core-shell gold-ferromagnetic nanoparticles for intracellular exploration. Energy harvested and boosted by the antennas from an infrared laser beam will be used as a thermal energy source for heating up a cell to demonstrate cellular thermal therapy to show energy transmission.The proposed research will enable new technologies for the design, simulation, optimization, fabrication, and characterization of nano-sized functional elements for microrobotic agents. Plasmonic structures will be used as sensing elements based on the sensitivity of surface plasmons on the segment separation or environmental stimuli, besides of the new signal transduction principle, the mobility of them enabled by microrobotic carries will greatly expand their mapping and targeting capability. External power supply to microrobots have been a major bottle neck for the evolution of microrobots from particles into systems, the success of this project will pave a new avenue of micro-/nanorobots not only from the aspect of integration, but also the remote signal and energy transmission; highlighting the emerging of more intelligent and powerful tools for such applications as microrobotic thermo-surgery and gene therapy.


Project number9042984
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/21 → …