Made a microscopic soft robot that breaks down into several pieces and reassembles itself to be able to easily cross even the narrowest and most tortuous passages: in the future it could be used to convey drugs in the human body, in order to cross the smallest blood vessels and also reach the most inaccessible parts such as the brain.
The result is published in the journal Science Advances by researchers from Soochow University in China, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the Harbin Institute of Technology.
Miniature ferrofluidic robot that splits into tiny versions of itself.
credit: Science Advances / YouTube
The robot was built using spherical magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles suspended in a transparent oil and controlled by external magnets.
To demonstrate the ability to cross arteries and capillaries in the human body, the researchers made the robot move through the meanders of a small maze.
By breaking down the robot into several parts, they obtained a real swarm, which managed to overcome the narrowest passages and then compose themselves and reach the exit of the maze.
The researchers explain that the robot could be made in different sizes.
In order to really use it in the human body, a magnetic control system that is strong enough to act through human tissues and the bones of the skull must be developed.