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International Journal of Antennas and Propagation
Volume 2013, Article ID 309703, 11 pages
Research Article

A Feasibility Study for Microwave Breast Cancer Detection Using Contrast-Agent-Loaded Bacterial Microbots

1Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, South University of Science and Technology of China, Shenzhen 518055, China
2School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, King’s College London, London WC2R 2LS, UK
3Department of Computer Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Montreal, Canada H3T 1J4

Received 25 June 2013; Accepted 24 September 2013

Academic Editor: Soon Yim Tan

Copyright © 2013 Yifan Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We propose a new approach to microwave breast tumor sensing and diagnosis based on the use of biocompatible flagellated magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) adapted to operate in human microvasculature. It has been verified experimentally by Martel et al. that externally generated magnetic gradients could be applied to guide the MTB along preplanned routes inside the human body, and a nanoload could be attached to these bacterial microbots. Motivated by these useful properties, we suggest loading a nanoscale microwave contrast agent such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) or ferroelectric nanoparticles (FNPs) onto the MTB in order to modify the dielectric properties of tissues near the agent-loaded bacteria. Subsequently, we propose a novel differential microwave imaging (DMI) technique to track simultaneously multiple swarms of MTB microbots injected into the breast. We also present innovative strategies to detect and localize a breast tissue malignancy and estimate its size via this DMI-trackable bacterial microrobotic system. Finally, we use an anatomically realistic numerical breast phantom as a platform to demonstrate the feasibility of this tumor diagnostic method.