With recent emphasis clinically on improved surveillance and earlier diagnosis, an increasing proportion of procedures performed will aim to target smaller lesions that are more amenable to minimally invasive procedures. This has called for the development of miniaturised robots for surgery and targeted therapy with micro-instruments and smart actuators with integrated sensing and imaging, supported by advances in materials, micro/nano-fabrication and micro-/nano-machining, as well as rapid prototyping technologies.
These robots are expected to have a significant impact on the future practice of minimally invasive procedures including gastrointestinal, urological, neuro, cardiac, endovascular, paediatric, and orthopaedic surgeries.
The micro-/nano-robot is a new research programme at the Hamlyn Centre following a recent major investment by EPSRC Capital for Great Technologies in Robotics and Autonomous Systems Award for establishing dedicated micro/nano-engineering facilities for medical robotics at the Hamlyn Centre.
The facility includes key aspects of:
- Multi-material, precision 3D rapid prototyping with materials ranging from thermoplastics, photopolymers, to metal (including Cobalt Chrome, Stainless Steel, Titanium, and Nickel Alloy) with direct metal laser sintering
- Micro/nano-machining and fabrication platforms
- Micro-assembly platforms and nano-workbench with SEM and 3D imaging systems
- Biophotonics for robotically assisted in-vivo cellular-level optical imaging, tissue characterization and ablation