MinJun Kim builds the type of “nanoscale transformers” that once existed only in the vivid imaginations of science fiction writers. Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering and the Robert C. Womack Chair in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, creates tiny robots “that may one day perform surgery, deliver drugs directly to tumors and help doctors see what’s happening inside the body’s hardest-to-reach spaces,” according to a story published by The Dallas Morning News on June 1, 2018.
By Anna Kuchment
The Dallas Morning News
MinJun Kim says he “got a shock” in graduate school when he discovered the science fiction film Fantastic Voyage.
In the movie, a submarine crew shrinks down to miniature size and travels through a scientist’s body to save him from a dangerous blood clot in his brain.
Today, Kim builds robots the size of particles, viruses and microbes that are capable of doing many of the same things as the Fantastic Voyage crew. He creates tiny devices — about 500 times thinner than a human hair — that may one day perform surgery, deliver drugs directly to tumors and help doctors see what’s happening inside the body’s hardest-to-reach spaces.
“They are kind of like nanoscale transformers,” says Kim, 46, a professor at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. He’s a fan of sci-fi and credits films like Fantastic Voyage, Inner Space and Big Hero 6 for inspiring his work. He was surprised that the makers of Fantastic Voyage, which came out in 1966, could have foreseen many of the projects he’s working on today.