Magnetically driven piezoelectric soft microswimmers for neuron-like cell delivery and neuronal differentiation†
Wireless micro- and nanorobots are biomedical devices with a potential use in high-precision minimally invasive therapies. Here, a highly integrated multifunctional soft microrobot is developed for targeted cell therapy applications, featuring targeted cell transportation and induced cell differentiation. The micromachines are made of composites consisting of a soft piezoelectric polymer matrix in which magnetic nanoparticles are dispersed. The magnetic nanoparticles serve as the component for the device's magnetic actuation, while the piezoelectric polymer acts as both a steerable scaffold and an acoustically responsive cell electrostimulation platform. With the application of a rotating magnetic field, the microrobots swim in a corkscrew motion in different liquid environments that mimic human body fluids. When the swimmers are subjected to acoustic waves, their piezoelectric body is electrically polarized which induces cell differentiation of neuron-like PC12 cells loaded on the swimmers surface. This combinatorial technique may open up new avenues for bioelectronic therapies.