Robotic Manipulation of Cells, Molecules, and Nanomaterials: MEAM Seminar at UPenn

  • April 12, 2018 • 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
  • Raisler Lounge (Towne 225)

“Robotic Manipulation of Cells, Molecules, and Nanomaterials”

Yu Sun, Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto


The capability of manipulating micro and nanometer-sized objects, such as cells/molecules and nanomaterials opens new frontiers in robotic surgery, disease diagnostics, industrial applications and enables new discoveries in many disciplines such as biology, medicine, and materials science. The past two decades has witnessed spurred development of micro-nano robotic systems and technologies with common hallmarks of precision instrumentation, sensing, actuation, and control. This presentation will first provide a brief overview of challenges, opportunities, and recent advances made in the field of micro-nano robotics. Next, I will introduce our micro-nano robotic and device techniques for realizing a ‘nanofactory’ inside scanning electron microscopes with unique capabilities of automated nanomanipulation and multimodal measurement of nano-scaled materials. I will then discuss our work in robotic cell manipulation, including recent progress in clinical trial of our robotic cell surgery technologies, drug screen for the management of cardiovascular diseases enabled by robotic cell manipulation, and if time permits, robotic characterization of voided urine cells to bolster clinical bladder cancer diagnostics. I will end the talk by sharing our most recent activities that shift the paradigm of robotic cell manipulation from single-cell manipulation to intracellular navigation and measurement.


Yu Sun is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, with joint appointments in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. He was elected Fellow of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), and CAE (Canadian Academy of Engineering) for his work on micro-nano devices and robotic systems. His Advanced Micro and Nanosystems Laboratory specializes in developing innovative technologies and instruments for manipulating and characterization of cells, molecules, and nanomaterials, and collaborates with an extensive collaborative network that includes clinician scientists, industry partners, biologists, physicists, material scientists, and engineers.

Sun obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2003 and did his postdoctoral research at ETH-Zürich. He is presently a McLean Senior Faculty Fellow at the University of Toronto and a Tier I Canada Research Chair. In 2012-2013, he directed the University of Toronto Nanofabrication Center. Sun has served and serves on the editorial boards of several IEEE journals (IEEE Trans. Robotics, IEEE Trans. Automation Science and Engineering, and IEEE Trans. Mechatronics), J. Micromechanics Microengineering, Scientific Reports, and Microsystems & Nanoengineering. Among the awards he received were the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award; a dozen best paper awards and finalists at major conferences; six times University of Toronto Connaught Innovation Award; the McLean Award; the First Prize in Technical Achievement of ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine); an NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship; and the IEEE C.C. Gotlieb Computer Award.