A Laser-Driven Microrobot for Thermal Stimulation of Single Cells

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Here, the study presents a thermally activated cell-signal imaging (TACSI) microrobot, capable of photothermal actuation, sensing, and light-driven locomotion. The plasmonic soft microrobot is specifically designed for thermal stimulation of mammalian cells to investigate cell behavior under heat active conditions. Due to the integrated thermosensitive fluorescence probe, Rhodamine B, the system allows dynamic measurement of induced temperature changes. TACSI microrobots show excellent biocompatibility over 72 h in vitro, and they are capable of thermally activating single cells to cell clusters. Locomotion in a 3D workspace is achieved by relying on thermophoretic convection, and the microrobot speed is controlled within a range of 5–65 µm s−1. In addition, light-driven actuation enables spatiotemporal control of the microrobot temperature up to a maximum of 60 °C. Using TACSI microrobots, this study targets single cells within a large population, and demonstrates thermal cell stimulation using calcium signaling as a biological output. Initial studies with human embryonic kidney 293 cells indicate a dose dependent change in intracellular calcium content within the photothermally controlled temperature range of 37–57 °C.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2300904
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number26
StatePublished - 18 Oct 2023


  • gold-alginate nanocomposites
  • light-guided locomotion
  • mobile thermometry
  • photothermal actuation
  • plasmonic soft microrobots
  • thermal biology


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