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Researchers develop robotic tweezers that can grasp single cells

Nilay Patel
04.17.08
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Usually when we talk about robot grip strength, it's in the context of being slowly crushed to death during a violent robot uprising, but it appears we now have to fear our bodies being stolen away cell-by-cell as well. That's the terrifying reality being brought to life at the University of Toronto, where researcher Yu Sun and his team have developed semi-autonomous microscopic robo-tweezers that can sense touch and grip strength acutely enough to pick up and move individual heart cells during tests without damaging them. The tiny rig is just .1 inches long, and the grippers on the ends are fine enough to pick up cell just 10 micrometers wide. So far they've just been arranging cells during testing, but Yu says eventually they can be used to assemble silicon parts on circuit boards, or even engineer tissue. No word on when these might hit production, but when they do Yu says he expects them to cost just $10 each. At least the revolution will be inexpensive, we guess.

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