Team deploys hundreds of tiny untethered surgical tools in first animal biopsies

By using swarms of untethered grippers, each as small as a speck of dust, Johns Hopkins engineers and physicians say they have devised a new way to perform biopsies that could provide a more effective way to access narrow conduits in the body as well as find early signs of cancer or other diseases.

In two recent peer-reviewed journal articles, the team reported successful animal testing of the tiny tools, which require no batteries, wires or tethers as they seize internal tissue samples. The devices are called ‘mu-grippers,’ incorporating the Greek letter that represents the term for ‘micro.’ Instead of relying on electric or pneumatic power, these star-shaped tools are autonomously activated by the body