ReviewBIOMATERIALS

Biohybrid actuators for robotics: A review of devices actuated by living cells

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Science Robotics  29 Nov 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 12, eaaq0495
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaq0495

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Abstract

Actuation is essential for artificial machines to interact with their surrounding environment and to accomplish the functions for which they are designed. Over the past few decades, there has been considerable progress in developing new actuation technologies. However, controlled motion still represents a considerable bottleneck for many applications and hampers the development of advanced robots, especially at small length scales. Nature has solved this problem using molecular motors that, through living cells, are assembled into multiscale ensembles with integrated control systems. These systems can scale force production from piconewtons up to kilonewtons. By leveraging the performance of living cells and tissues and directly interfacing them with artificial components, it should be possible to exploit the intricacy and metabolic efficiency of biological actuation within artificial machines. We provide a survey of important advances in this biohybrid actuation paradigm.

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