Scientists at Chinese, Hong Kong, and American universities have created a metal microbot that can melt, slide through secure cage bars, and then turn back into a solid state.
Source: PC Magazine
Scientists at Chinese, Hong Kong, and American universities have created a metal microbot that can melt, slide through bars, and then turn back into a solid state and resume tasks.
The team of scientists used a composite of metals with a low melting point as part of a study into metal microparticles and presented their findings in the journal Matter. The inventors believe the robot, which has been likened to the cyber killer T-1000 in The Terminator movie franchise, can be of use in clinical and mechanical settings as it can get to hard-to-reach spaces.
During the study, the microbot turned into liquid form 1 minute and 20 seconds after scientists shot it with magnetic fields at alternating currents, which increased its temperature to 95 Fahrenheit (35 Celsius). Once liquid metal, the microbot maneuvered through the gaps in a cage using more magnets.
As The Washington Post notes, the microbot was able to lengthen, divide, and merge in its liquid form. When solid, it was capable of being driven at more than 3mph and could carry objects up to 30 times its weight. The robot measures less than 0.4 inches in width when solid.
Speaking to the Post, Chengfeng Pan, the study’s co-author and engineer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the material of the microbot could achieve “fast movement and heavy load-bearing” when in its solid state and “shape changing in its liquid state.”
“Potentially, this material system can be used for applications in flexible electronics, health care, and robotics,” he added.
According to the scientists who worked on the study, the news marks the first time that a material that permits both shifting shape and the carrying of heavy loads has been found for use in microbots.
Source: PC Magazine