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Remote-controlled insect navigation using plasmonic nanotattoos

By Sirimuvva Tadepalli, Sisi Cao, Debajit Saha, Keng-Ku Liu, Alex Chen, Sang hyun Bae, Baranidharan Raman, Srikanth Singamaneni

Posted 11 Feb 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.10.942540

Developing insect cyborgs by integrating external components (optical, electrical or mechanical) with biological counterparts has a potential to offer elegant solutions for complex engineering problems. A key limiting step in the development of such biorobots arises at the nano-bio interface, i.e. between the organism and the nano implant that offers remote controllability. Often, invasive procedures are necessary that tend to severely compromise the navigation capabilities as well as the longevity of such biorobots. Therefore, we sought to develop a non-invasive solution using plasmonic nanostructures that can be photoexcited to generate heat with spatial and temporal control. We designed a nanotattoo using silk that can interface the plasmonic nanostructures with a biological tissue. Our results reveal that both structural and functional integrity of the biological tissues such as insect antenna, compound eyes and wings were preserved after the attachment of the nanotattoo. Finally, we demonstrate that insects with the plasmonic nanotattoos can be remote controlled using light and integrated with functional recognition elements to detect the chemical environment in the region of interest. In sum, we believe that the proposed technology will play a crucial role in the emerging fields of biorobotics and other nano-bio applications.

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