From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Microbots for drug delivery
Mains level : NA
An Indian researcher has found that it is possible to use light as a fuel to move microbots in real-body conditions with intelligent drug delivery that is selectively sensitive to cancer cells
Microswimmers for drug delivery
- Made from the two-dimensional compound poly (heptazine imide) carbon nitride (aka PHI carbon nitride), these microbots are nothing like the miniaturised humans.
- They range from 1-10 micrometre (a micrometre is one-millionth of a metre) in size, and can self-propel when energised by shining light.
- While carbon nitride is an excellent photo-catalyst, the two-dimensional PHI has a sponge-like structure full of pores and voids and charge storage properties.
- The researchers found that the ions in the salty solution passed through the pores of PHI carbon nitride.
- Thus, there was little or no resistance from the salt ions.
How do they swim across the blood?
- The PHI carbon nitride microparticles are photocatalytic.
- Like in a solar cell, the incident light is converted into electrons and holes.
- These charges drive reactions in the surrounding liquid. The charges react with the fluid surrounding them.
- This reaction, combined with the particle’s electric field, makes the microbots (micro-swimmers) swim.
- As long as there is light, electrons and holes are produced on the surface of the swimmers, which in turn react to form ions and an electric field around the swimmer.
- These ions move around the particle and cause fluid to flow around the particle.
- So this fluid flow causes the micro-swimmers to move.
How does the ion movement occur?
- The ions move from the bright surface of the micro-swimmer to the rear end.
- The diffusion of the swimming medium in one direction propels the micro-swimmer in the opposite direction.
- This is like a boat moving in the direction opposite to the oar strokes.
- The particles are nearly spherical, and the incident light illuminates one-half of the sphere, leaving the other dark.
- As photocatalysis is light-driven, it occurs only on the brightened hemisphere.
- As the ions move from the bright side to the dark side, micro-swimmers march in the direction of the light source.