In the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage,” a submarine, full of scientists, is shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the bloodstream of a seriously wounded diplomat.
Forty-six years later, the idea sounds less far fetched. In a Stanford lab, engineers are perfecting their fantastic voyage.
“And then, we can make it smaller,” said electrical engineer Professor Ada Poon, Ph.D.
Poon says smaller is the name of the game.
“We have been in this project for more than four years. So we encounter a lot of obstacles along the way and then we solve them one by one, said Poon.
Instead of a battery, which takes up lots of space, the device that will be used for travel is powered wirelessly with electromagnetic radio waves.
“The prototype we built is 3mm by 4mm. You can see here that we have a 2mm by 2mm receiving antennae,” said Dan Pivonka, PhD.
The result is a new class of medical devices that are so small they can travel through the bloodstream.
“Right now we could go to the arteries. The midsize could go through the arteries, but we want it to even go through some smaller bloodstreams,” said Poon.
These tiny devices may one day change how we perform diagnostic tests, deliver medications, and even do surgical procedures.
“We are pretty excited about it, but this is only the first step. We still have a long way to go in order to realize this fantastic voyage,” said Poon.