Robot made of sticky tape and metal powder could crawl on your organs

Tiny robots made of metallic powder caught to plastic tape and managed by magnetic fields could in the future crawl inside inner organs and restore accidents


15 July 2022

Robots made from sticky tape and mud can morph into numerous shapes beneath the route of a magnetic area. They could in the future be capable of crawl into computer systems to repair damaged circuits and even contained in the human abdomen to use therapeutic patches to gastric ulcers.

Soft robots that haven’t any batteries, motors or electronics and which can be powered and managed from a distance by gentle or magnets are a preferred area of analysis. But there are boundaries to beat earlier than they can be utilized in sensible functions, together with the necessity for an inexpensive manufacturing course of.

Zhang Li on the Chinese University of Hong Kong and his colleagues found {that a} magnet-controlled robotic could be created simply and at low value utilizing sticky tape onto which non-sticky wax has been printed in a particular sample. When powder containing microparticles of magnetic neodymium-iron-boron is utilized to the tape, it sticks to the uncovered sections however to not the wax overlay – somewhat like a stencil. The wax is then dissolved in ethyl acetate resolution to go away an precisely formed magnetic robotic.

Zhang says that the method could be simply automated and that tiny robots could finally be printed in lengthy rolls, identical to newspapers coming off a printing press.

In experiments, his crew created sticky tape robots of numerous shapes round a centimetre throughout that change their geometry relying on the presence and orientation of a magnetic area. Some of the robots had been in a position to transfer by water or alongside flat surfaces, and one gadget was in a position to crawl throughout the floor of pig abdomen tissue within the lab and place a small therapeutic patch onto a gastric ulcer earlier than detaching from the patch and shifting away.

A small robotic made from sticky tape and metal powder

Zhang Li

Zhang says that these gadgets could be used sooner or later to ship medicine or perform easy medical procedures within the abdomen or intestines. “It can be deployed in this kind of folded, small scale, and when it reaches a large cavity it can open up,” he says. “It’s very much like a satellite, where after its launch into outer space the solar panels will open up. So when you swallow this device, it should have a very small size.”

There are hurdles to beat previous to medical trials, nonetheless. “The first thing is safety, because currently we’re using a very strong magnet called a neodymium-iron-boron magnet. It’s actually not that safe,” says Zhang. “It’s kind of toxic to the cells.”

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn8932

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