3D nanofabricated soft microrobots with super-compliant picoforce springs as onboard sensors and actuators

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Haifeng Xu - , Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (Author)
  • Song Wu - , Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (Author)
  • Yuan Liu - , Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT) (Author)
  • Xiaopu Wang - , Shenzhen Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Society (Author)
  • Artem K Efremov - , Shenzhen Bay Laboratory (Author)
  • Lei Wang - , Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT) (Author)
  • John S McCaskill - , Chemnitz University of Technology (Author)
  • Mariana Medina-Sánchez - , Micro- and Nano-Biosystems (Research Group), Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (Author)
  • Oliver G Schmidt - , Chemnitz University of Technology (Author)


Microscale organisms and specialized motile cells use protein-based spring-like responsive structures to sense, grasp and move. Rendering this biomechanical transduction functionality in an artificial micromachine for applications in single-cell manipulations is challenging due to the need for a bio-applicable nanoscale spring system with a large and programmable strain response to piconewton-scale forces. Here we present three-dimensional nanofabrication and monolithic integration, based on an acrylic elastomer photoresist, of a magnetic spring system with quantifiable compliance sensitive to 0.5 pN, constructed with customized elasticity and magnetization distributions at the nanoscale. We demonstrate the effective design programmability of these 'picospring' ensembles as energy transduction mechanisms for the integrated construction of customized soft micromachines, with onboard sensing and actuation functions at the single-cell scale for microrobotic grasping and locomotion. The integration of active soft springs into three-dimensional nanofabrication offers an avenue to create biocompatible soft microrobots for non-disruptive interactions with biological entities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-503
Number of pages10
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

External IDs

PubMedCentral PMC11026159
Scopus 85181251507



  • Locomotion, Research Design