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LSU scientist awarded $556,200 for micro-robotics research

4 years 3 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, February 13 2020 Feb 13, 2020 February 13, 2020 12:42 PM February 13, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - An LSU scientist who studies some of nature's smallest elements has become the recipient of a rather large award. 

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bhuvnesh Bharti has been awarded $556,2000 for his research in the field of micro-robotics.

The money is part of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award. Bharti was chosen as the recipient because of his work in a relatively new arena called 'active colloids.' 

Bharti works with particles called 'colloids' that are 1/50th the diameter of human hair. 

Small particles like colloids are important in technology because they have the ability to move through seemingly solid objects. 

So, if scientists found a way to control the movements of colloids, they could use this ability to more effectively treat tumors. 

Most tumors are surrounded by a thick, gel-like area called an interstitium. It's a barrier that's difficult to pass through before reaching the tumor. 

But, Bharti's research involves figuring out how to direct nanoparticles that carry cancer-fighting drugs through areas as dense as interstitium.

Success in this arena would mean a groundbreaking achievement for the health care field.

But figuring out how to direct a nanoparticle through a dense area is no easy task. 

That's why Bharti and his team are hard at work.

He shared one of his most promising theories with WBRZ saying, "Imagine you'd like to cross Bourbon Street in New Orleans during a Mardi Gras Parade. If you try to run along a straight line you'd bump into other people and won't be able to get too far."

"However, if you move in a zig-zag path you may be able to go much further across, maybe even able to cross the street."  

"This is the exact principle we are using to develop the new generation of micro-robots which can pass through crowded environments by altering their motion path." 

"This is critical in the targeted delivery of drugs to remote tumor sites within the body, which are often located in similar crowded environments."

At the moment, Bharti and his team are working on a promising way of controlling colloids that involves sort of lassoing the colloids with electrical currents, and then controlling the currents to direct the paths of the colloids.  

Now that the team has $556,200 to use over five years time, they'll be able to do more with their research. 

Bharti told WBRZ he hopes their discoveries will have lasting impacts in healthcare and other industries.

"As an engineer and scientist, I am fascinated by the unusual physical and chemical properties of extremely tiny micro and nanoparticles," Bharti said.

"If successful, we may not only influence engineering and scientific basis of designing future microbots but will impact every technology and field that uses nano or micron-sized particles including biomedicine, food industry, fossil fuel sensing, etc."   


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