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Your location: Home > Related Articles > Scientists have created robots that use magnets and light to clean up garbage

Scientists have created robots that use magnets and light to clean up garbage

Author:QINSUN Released in:2024-01 Click:28

According to foreign media New Atlas, researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have taken inspiration from a tiny marine organism and created a centimeter sized robot driven by magnets and light. Due to its ability to grasp and release objects underwater, the team envisioned a range of applications for its new machine, including using tentacles to collect pollutants and even capturing cells as biomedical tools.

The inspiration for this wireless aquatic robot comes from coral polyps, which are small and soft organisms that combine in large numbers to form coral reefs. The characteristic of these small animals is that the central stem will perform specific movements, generate small currents, and attract food particles for their tentacles to grasp. At this point, researchers have seen some interesting possibilities.

"My inspiration comes from the movement of these coral polyps, especially their ability to interact with the environment through self generated currents," explained research author Marina Pilz Da Cunha. Pilz Da Cunha and her team replicated this by starting from a stem that moved under the influence of a rotating magnet below, allowing it to generate electricity in the surrounding water. This has the effect of attracting pollutant particles in water, which are then taken over by light activated tentacles.

These tentacles are made of optomechanical polymer materials and can react to light of different wavelengths. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the tentacles will respond by grabbing, while blue light will cause them to release. Overall, this forms a one centimeter long soft robot that can grasp small underwater objects through magnets and light.

"Combining two different stimuli is rare because it requires exquisite material preparation and assembly, but it is interesting for creating unbound robots because it allows for complex shape changes and tasks," explained Pilz Da Cunha.

In an experiment, the team demonstrated the ability of coral inspired robots by having them capture oil droplets from water samples. As an additional layer of functionality, it can also keep the robot in a new shape, such as a "grasping" state, until it is exposed to the correct light. "This helps to control the grabbing arm; once something is grabbed, the robot can hold it until it is stimulated by light again before releasing it," said Pilz Da Cunha.

For the next step, the team is working hard to produce a team consisting of its small robots, which may work together to transport particles, with one robot passing them on to the next robot. Going forward, the team envisions using them to capture and transport specific cells as part of advanced diagnostic equipment.

The relevant research results have been published in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

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