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Physical Manipulation and Characterization of Biological Cells: A MEMS and Micro-Nanorobotics Approach

Yu Sun


Living cells are a complex, dynamic entity, continuously adapting and responding to biochemical and physical cues. Cellular metabolism and fate can be regulated through various factors, such as the introduction of biomolecules into cells or through mechanobiological stimuli (e.g., mechanical stimuli, extracellular matrix, and soluble biochemical signals).

In this context, we develop enabling MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) tools and micro-nanorobotic systems to physically interrogate single cells. I will briefly introduce our bioMEMS research in cell characterization and stimulation. I will then spend more time on introducing our microrobotics research in the manipulation of cells under optical microscopy, particularly on our molecule screen work and clinical applications. If time allows, I will finish the talk with an introduction of our recent results in nanorobotic manipulation of biomolecules and nanomaterials under electron microscopy.


Yu Sun is an associate professor in the Dept. of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, with joint appointments in the Inst. of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto (UofT).

He is a McLean Senior Fellow at UofT and the Canada Research Chair in Micro and Nano Engineering Systems. His Ph.D. was in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in 2003. Prior to joining the faculty of Toronto in 2004, Sun held a Research Scientist position at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Z├╝rich).

His Advanced Micro and Nanosystems Laboratory ( at Toronto specializes in the manipulation and characterization of single cells, biomolecules, and nanomaterials using MEMS and micro-nanorobotics approaches. Sun has published over 140 technical articles and is an inventor of 12 US/PCT patents (granted or pending) on micro-nano systems and devices. Two start-up companies were created based on his technologies. Sun is a technical editor of IEEE Trans. on Mechatronics, an associate editor of IEEE Trans. on Robotics, an associate editor of IEEE Trans. on Automation Science and Engineering, and on the editorial board of the journal, Micro & Nano Letters.

Yu Sun Headshot
Yu Sun
University of Toronto
EEB 105
29 Mar 2011, 10:30am until 11:30am