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Nanomotors Moved and Manipulated Within Living Cells

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 03:17PM

When one works with a living cell, they generally must do so from outside its membrane. This is understandable, considering the size of a cell, but if researchers could reach inside a cell, they could do some interesting things. Researchers at Penn State University have recently achieved that by controlling nanomotors that existed within a living cell using ultrasound and magnetic fields.

Nanomotors have been created before, but have never been used in living human cells, in part because at least the chemically fueled ones use a toxic fuel. This new design however can be powered remotely using ultrasound, which does not affect a cell on its own, and does not affect the motors either, at low frequencies. Turn up the frequency however and the motors can start spinning, like an egg beater, or move forward like a battering ram and actually puncture the cell membrane. If they are not pointed in the correct direction, a magnetic field can get them pointed where you want them. This could including pointing them at an organelle, to discover the unseen reactions a cell has for such events.

Another important feature of these nanomotors is that they can move autonomously from each other. This will be exceedingly useful if they were sent to hunt cancer cells or deliver medicine, as you would not want them all to move in one direction.

Source: Penn State University

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