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Nano- and Micro-systems that help people

The Miki Lab is developing machines that help people based on entirely new concepts, using microscopic structures of micrometer and nanometer sizes.

The Lab is utilizing a diverse range of nano- and micro-manufacturing technologies, with the aim of innovations in human interfaces, healthcare, the environment, and energy.

[Human Interfaces]
Q.For example, someone who cant get out of bed might want a cup of tea. To communicate this, all they need to do is look at the tea. Or road signs at an intersection could be positioned more safely by understanding where children or drivers are looking.

As a similar human interface, they are developing a display that can communicate through various tactile means, such as Braille or rough and smooth surfaces. Braille letters can be rewritten individually using micro-actuators, to make them vibrate or ripple at a certain frequency. In this way, their goal is to develop devices that communicate information to people through the sense of touch, not only by rewriting Braille, but using indented and smooth surfaces as well.

[Healthcare Applications]
Q.In our field recently, weve been studying technologies for doing laboratory-scale things, like mixing chemicals in a flask, for example, on one very small chip.

In particular, in our lab, we use these technologies to collect cells, which are usually about 10 micrometers in size. The aim is to actually construct tissues inside the body using these cells.

Using a microchip with millimeter to micrometer-sized passages and chambers, cells can be efficiently collected, separated, and injected with drugs. A chip like this is called a Lab-on-a-Chip.

The Miki Lab is doing research where fluid pressure is used to collect liver cells in three dimensions, to generate tissue artificially. This is expected to have applications in drug screening and regenerative medicine.

[Environment and Energy]
In the environmental and energy fields, the Lab is studying sensors for detecting vegetable water content, to cultivate high-quality produce with very high sugar content. The team is also working on micro-batteries that use stomach acid to power capsule endoscopes, and bio-batteries that utilize micro-organisms.

In such ways, the Miki Lab is working to apply evolving technologies in various fields to healthcare and the environment.

This groundbreaking approach is unique to the Miki Lab.

Q.Good engineers can only design things that can be manufactured.
In fact, engineers who design unmanufacturable things are useless as engineers!

At such times, we see the spread of machines that can be designed using new manufacturing technologies, to make smaller things and more complicated things. And so it becomes possible to make things that were previously just dreams; for example, the wearable sensors and tactile displays I mentioned earlier.

I think thats whats really interesting about this research.

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