High orders of heterogeneity among populations of the same cell type have given rise to the necessity to study phenotypical behavior of single cells in recent years. Studies at the single cell level serve as the bottom-up approach in tissue engineering, where understandings can unravel the spatiotemporal organization of multi-cellular systems and guide 3D tissue printing practices in regenerative medicine. Further, the study of mechanics at the single cell level will establish the fundamental mechanism for more complex phenomena, such as collective cell migration and cancer cell metastasis.
Nanorobotics is the realization of ultra-automation in the micro and nanoscale under unstructured environment. There are two school of thoughts: nanorobotic manipulators–robots capable of manipulating objects with nanoscale dimensions in nanometer resolution, and nanorobot, self-assembled intelligent machines that are physically in nanoscale. We will approach from both perspectives: designing and developing more advanced cell manipulation systems for single cell analysis, and innovating in cellular robotics, self-assembled cell clusters as intelligent machines.
Basic scientific research
The technological advancement promotes basic scientific breakthroughs in mechanobiology, especially cellular interactions with neighboring cells and extracellular matrix via mechanotransduction under normal and diseased conditions. The manipulation based interrogations will cast light on the complex inner workings of the basic unit of life and enable next-generation targeted therapy and precision medicine.
The across-disciplinary nature of our research topic brings together brains and skill sets from micro/nanomanipulation and robotic surgery, ultra-automation, microfluidics and bioMEMS, mechanobiology and cell mechanics into one central theme.
We host a range of state-of-the-art instruments and tools including: micro/nano manipulators for cell manipulation, atomic force microscopy for high resolution imaging and mechanical characterization, optical microscopy for fluorescence imaging, and a host of electronics including micro-controllers, patch-clamp amplifiers, oscilloscopes and more.
The nanoscience core at UNL hosts a number of state-of-the-art instruments: scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and nano fabrication clean rooms.