Using this 3-D lithography, the ETH researchers say they have been able to produce tiny vehicles with plastic chassis and magnetic metal wheels driven by a rotating magnetic field, either on a glass surface or, depending on the polymer in question, in or on the surface of a liquid.
Initial mobility tests have proven successful and promising. However, before a modern form of the "fantastic journey" through the human body can be established in medical routine, some development is still needed. The ETH scientists are currently working on the further development of their two-component micromachines, whereby they are willing to test the use of different materials. In addition, they will try to produce more complex shapes and machines, including those that canfold together and unfold again. The researchers also seek to expand the range of their miniaturised "transporters" for specific purposes. In addition to drug-delivering ferries, future applications include micromachines that can be used to treat dangerous aneurysms bulges in blood vesselsor to perform other operations. Specifically, the researchers envisage the development of foldable stents to keep blocked vessels open or to prevent them from becoming blocked again.