SPECIAL FEATURE: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
Actual in-body nanorobots for the purposes of diagnosing and treating harmful conditions on the cellular level are years away. For now, scientists can only imagine. Nanorobot prototyping software, however, may allow researchers to use their imaginations in more sophisticated ways.
The nanorobot control design (NCD) software is a system designed to serve as a test bed for nanorobot 3-D prototyping. The findings were first published in the January issue of Nanotechnology by a group of Australian and American researchers.
The NCD platform combines 3-D modeling and virtual reality to enable the design, simulation, and testing of nanorobots. In a real-time simulation demonstration, virtual nanorobots were assigned the task of searching for proteins in a dynamic environment, and bringing those proteins to a specific organ inlet for drug delivery.
Simulation using 3-D modeling can provide interactive tools for analyzing nanorobot design choices, including decisions related to sensors, architectural design, manufacturing, and control methodology. Specifically, NCD lets nanorobots operate inside of a virtual human body in order to compare control techniques.
Eventually, designers will be able to use the NCD platform for actual nanorobot design prototyping for specific applications, says Adriano Cavalcanti, CEO of the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (Melbourne, Australia), a private company that focuses on developing systems and prototypes related to nanotechnology in the medical device sector.
“The numerical and advanced simulations provided a better understanding of how nanorobots should interact and be controlled inside the human body; hence, based on such information, we have proposed innovative hardware architecture with a nanorobot model for use in common medical applications,” Cavalcanti says. “The proposed platform should enable virtual patient pervasive monitoring, as well as precise diagnosis and smart drug delivery for cancer therapy.”
“In the same way microelectronics provided new medical devices in the 1980s, now miniaturization through nanotechnology is enabling the manufacture of nanobiosensors and actuators to improve cell biology interfaces and biomolecular manipulation.” Fully operational nanorobots for biomedical instrumentation should be achieved as a result of nanobioelectronics and proteomics integration, Cavalcanti says.
Cavalcanti says achieving the goal of functional, feasible nanorobots will be a three-step process. First, model manufacturing with carbon nanotube-CMOS biochip integration will have to occur, followed by in vivo tests, and, finally, commercialization.
Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN), Melbourne, Australia