ARA and Southern Methodist University Announce Microrobotics Collaboration

Chemically coated microparticles performing different trajectories under computer control. Microparticles are 10 microns in diameter.

ARA and the Biological Actuation, Sensing, and Transport Laboratory (BAST Lab) at SMU (Southern Methodist University) today announced a collaboration to further advance microrobotics technology for real world applications. This specific collaboration focuses on researching the propulsion characteristics of chemical-coated microrobots within realistic mucus fluid environments. Dr. Louis William Rogowski of ARA’s Integrated Products Division will be spearheading the research and conducting all major experiments. Dr. Min Jun Kim, the principal investigator of SMU’s BAST Lab, along with members of his team will be contributing their expertise and providing access to their laboratory.

“SMU has been at the forefront of microrobotics and is the perfect partner for ARA to discover applications that will advance our world and improve lives. This collaboration will push the final frontier of medicine to its limits,” said Dr. Rogowski.

Dr. Rogowski and Dr. Kim have worked together for years, collaborating with other laboratories across the United States, and helping pioneer the microparticle propulsion technique focused on in this research. Using a spontaneous symmetry breaking technique, magnetic microparticles can be converted into simple microrobots and made to precisely navigate using computer controlled magnetic fields.  Understanding how different chemical coatings affect this propulsion mechanism is crucial for their future as microrobots; eventually working alongside doctors to perform targeted drug delivery and minimally invasive surgery.

“In collaboration with ARA, we will develop microrobotics to function as co-robots that work directly on human patients, alongside healthcare provides, to perform lifesaving medical tasks, said Dr. Kim, Robert C. Womack Endowed Chair in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. “This idea, deeply rooted in science fiction, is now considered to be the final frontier of medical microrobotics.”

About SMU

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.

About the Lyle School of Engineering

SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, founded in 1925, is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees, through the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Engineering Management, Information and Systems; and Mechanical Engineering.

About ARA

Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) was founded in 1979, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to offer science and engineering research to solve problems of national importance. ARA delivers leading-edge products and innovative solutions for national defense, energy, homeland security, aerospace, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. With over 2,000 employee-owners at locations in the U.S. and Canada, ARA offers a broad range of technical expertise in defense technologies, civil engineering, computer software and simulation, systems analysis, biomedical engineering, environmental technologies, and blast testing and measurement.