Biohybrids and Bio-Inspired Robots: Understanding the Relationship Between Animals and Robots


July 29, 2022

Shop Now

We’ve been in the silicon wafer manufacturing business for a long time. Over that time, we’ve seen the many ways that semiconductors have changed the world. Every year, researchers come up with new technology designed to move humanity forward.

Some of the most interesting developments lately have been in the biohybrid and bio-inspired space. Essentially, researchers are looking to animals for ways to make robots more efficient and specialized.

Recently, we discussed the differences between organic and inorganic cognition. In many ways, this article is the other side of that coin, exploring the purposeful similarities that have developed between robots and the animal kingdom.


Biohybrids are a combination of organic tissue and robotics. While people typically don’t imagine robots as having an organic component, the word “robot” refers to a machine that is able to perform complicated tasks. This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be made of metal or other synthetic materials.

Instead, organic tissue is used in tandem with some sort of stimulus to fulfill a task. For instance, electricity or light can trigger a specific, repetitive action.  

Innovations in tissue engineering have made bioengineering increasingly feasible.

How Biohybrids Are Made

Cells can be taken from a variety of animals, most commonly chickens or rats. From there, they are grown on a molded skeleton. These skeletons are micropatterned in a way that encourages the cells to grow in the right directions.

This substrate ensures that when it is time for the muscles to contract, all the cells are working together to achieve their task.

The Advantages of Biohybrids

There are several reasons why this field of research has proved so promising:

  • Biodegradability – Biohybrids are inherently less wasteful than manufacturing processes that rely heavily on plastic and other eco-harmful materials.
  • Versatility – Given the current state of the supply chain, it’s always useful to have many different ways of performing the same function, depending on the resources available.
  • Weight – Traditional robots can be heavy due to the need for a power source. Biohybrids rely on nutrients for this power, not batteries. This makes them more lightweight.
  • Safety – Machinery can be dangerous to operate, or even be around, given the hard, weighty materials it's made from. Biohybrids are softer and less dangerous.
  • Camouflage – There are some areas where a robot would stand out, in a way that an animal would not.

While there is no doubt that biohybrids cannot entirely replace synthetic machines, their advantages make them a useful option to have.

The Challenges of Biohybrids

Of course, as with all emerging technologies, the possibilities have been matched by a number of challenges that researchers are still working to overcome.

The first is the sensitivity that biohybrids have to environments. It’s all too easy for them to malfunction due to minor temperature irregularities. In fact, they are often difficult to use in temperatures that vary significantly from their body temperature.  

They also require nutrition in order to continue functioning.  

These problems are being worked on by a variety of different researchers. Papers covering functional organic-inorganic hybrids received 18,500 citations in the past five years, showing that the conversation is growing quickly.

How Biohybrids Are Currently Used

Given the current challenges facing biohybrids, they are mostly relegated to labs and research-related endeavors. That said, there have been some successes in the healthcare field. Specifically, biohybrids have been used as:

  • Assays
  • Biosensors
  • Bioreactors
  • Implants
  • Transplants

This specialization makes sense when we consider the fact that the field of medical technology largely revolves around using technology to solve problems occurring in an organic system (i.e., the human body).

Biohybrids in Fiction

It’s interesting to note that science fiction predicted biohybrids long before they were a reality in day-to-day life.

One notable example can be found in X-Men comics, which feature a disease known as the Techno-Organic Virus. This fictional disease is supposed to slowly transform living matter into technology.

biohybrids could revolutionize silicon manufacturing

Bio-Inspired Robots

Along with using biological materials in the creation of robots, there have also been many occasions where biological creatures inspired robots.

This makes sense, given all the versatility that can be found in the animal kingdom. Humans are aware of more than two million species existent on earth, and experts believe that there could be anywhere from 5-10 million in total.

These animals represent a broad range of permutations, all of which can fulfill surprising tasks. Animals are most frequently used as inspiration for different forms of movement.

Animals have inspired various forms of climbing, jumping, and locomotion. The most famous bio-inspired machine is likely plane. While the wings of planes are rigid, their shape is inspired by the aerodynamic nature of birds.


Necrobotics is one of the latest innovations in the biohybrid space. Essentially, this field allows researchers to use dead animals to perform functions that would traditionally be performed by robots.

Spiders, for instance, are great at grabbing things. As opposed to traditional muscle-based contraction, they rely on hydraulics to grab things. This, combined with the shape of their bodies, makes them well-suited for small, delicate projects that can cause difficulty for synthetic grabbers.

Though it’s a bit macabre, this field of research is promising for its ability to take advantage of the biodegradability, versatility, and safety inherent in biohybrid technology.

In fact, one of the areas where these spiders are expected to be helpful is in the manufacturing of microelectronics. As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, smaller electronics can be extremely delicate during the manufacturing process, so the fact that necrobotics provide a softer touch make them worth the research.

the last stage of the silicon manufacturing process

Looking for a Silicon Wafer Manufacturing Company?

You’ve found it! At Wafer World, we help businesses get the wafers they need. We work with a variety of different materials, including silicon, germanium, GaAs, and InP. We’ve been in business for a long time, and we’re constantly innovating in this space.

Whether you have any questions about our facility, or you’d like to request a quote for a specific kind of water, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. We’re always happy to help people understand what’s possible with the right wafer.

Wafer World Banner