Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Ultrasound Doppler-guided real-time navigation of a magnetic microswarm for active endovascular delivery

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Science Advances  26 Feb 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 9, eabe5914
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe5914

Abstract

Swarming micro/nanorobots offer great promise in performing targeted delivery inside diverse hard-to-reach environments. However, swarm navigation in dynamic environments challenges delivery capability and real-time swarm localization. Here, we report a strategy to navigate a nanoparticle microswarm in real time under ultrasound Doppler imaging guidance for active endovascular delivery. A magnetic microswarm was formed and navigated near the boundary of vessels, where the reduced drag of blood flow and strong interactions between nanoparticles enable upstream and downstream navigation in flowing blood (mean velocity up to 40.8 mm/s). The microswarm-induced three-dimensional blood flow enables Doppler imaging from multiple viewing configurations and real-time tracking in different environments (i.e., stagnant, flowing blood, and pulsatile flow). We also demonstrate the ultrasound Doppler–guided swarm formation and navigation in the porcine coronary artery ex vivo. Our strategy presents a promising connection between swarm control and real-time imaging of microrobotic swarms for localized delivery in dynamic environments.

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