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A team of engineers has developed a class of tiny bio-hybrid machines that swim like sperm, the first synthetic structures that can traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments on their own. The bio-bots are modeled after single-celled creatures with long tails called flagella—for example, sperm. The researchers begin by creating the body of the bio-bot from a flexible polymer. Then they culture heart cells near the junction of the head and the tail. The cells self-align and synchronize to beat together, sending a wave down the tail that propels the bio-bot forward.

Read: Tiny Swimming Bio-Bots Boldly Go Where No Bot Has Swum Before

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