About C. Wyatt Shields IV's Work
Leveraging advances from the semiconductor industry, it is possible to fabricate microscale and nanoscale devices capable of directed reconfiguration. These properties give so-called microrobots the potential to perform difficult tasks, such as manipulate microscale objects and swim through complex fluids. However, microrobots have seen limited use in real-world settings due to highly complicated fabrication requirements. My group will address this challenge by making microrobots from the directed assembly of engineered building blocks. Particles of different shape containing magnetic films will be assembled into reconfigurable chains when a magnetic field is cyclically applied. My overall goal is to create robots with highly dexterous motions by predicting their folding behavior as a function of particle sequence and use the robots to transport genes through complex fluids. The outcome of this work will be a programmable and versatile technology with broad utility.