What if I told you that an alien-like magnetic slime robot could infiltrate your body and spare you from critical surgeries and unwanted items being swallowed? Well, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong have invented this soft-bodied robot slime.
The adaptability of elastomer-based robots and the deformation capabilities of fluid-based robotics are combined in this non-Newtonian magnetic slime robot. As a result, it can navigate and pass through tight tunnels with a width of 1.5 mm. They added magnetic particles to borax and combined it with polyvinyl alcohol to make this dark gray-colored slime.
The shape-shifting nature of the robot slime can navigate freely through complex mazes, uneven substrates, and even narrow confined tubes. Moreover, all the above actions are happening under the control of a magnetic field.
Unlike other liquid-based robots, which have substrate limitations, the magnetic robot slime is compatible with the eight most regularly used substrates. That includes hydrogel, plastic, silica, glass, metal, silicon, paper, and polydimethylsiloxane. Because of its electrical conductive properties, the robot can be used to fix electrical circuits and switches.
Micromanipulation and targeted drug distribution are examples of less invasive surgery for which the robot will be employed in the medical field. Also, it can enter the human body to retrieve accidentally swallowed objects.
The scientists believe that the robot will be used for future applications in biomedical and wearable devices. They have published a paper in the journal Advanced Functional Materials (DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202112508).
Source: Advanced Functional Materials