Inspired by pangolins, a medical robot that penetrates into the human body for treatment was born

Untethered Magnetic MicrosoftrobotAbility to access hard-to-reach areas for safe, destructive and minimally invasivethe medicalProcedures, however, and software limit the integration of non-magnetic external stimulus sources on the robot and thus limit the functionality of such Robots.Recently, in a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers developed magnetically controlled software inspired by pangolinsmedical robot.

The pangolin is a fascinating creature, an animal that looks like a walking pine cone because it is the only mammal whose body is covered in hard scales. Pangolin scales are made of keratin, like our hair and nails, and these scales overlap and connect directly to the underlying soft skin layer, allowing them to curl up in a ball if they are in danger.

Researchers from the Department of Physical Intelligence at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart were particularly fascinated by how pangolins instantly roll up their scale-covered bodies and were inspired by this to build soft robots modeled on animal structures. The robot can turn into a sphere in the blink of an eye like a pangolin, and has additional functions such as emitting heat, and can play some other roles when necessary.

The research team proposed such a plan: design a robot with a length of no more than 2 cm. The robot consists of two soft layers of polymer material covered with small magnetic particles. The second layer is some hard components arranged by made of metal. Although the robot produced by this scheme has metal parts, it is still soft and flexible as a whole and can be safely applied in the human body.

According to the design, when the robot is exposed to a low-frequency magnetic field, researchers can roll up the robot and move it back and forth at will. The metal parts protrude like animal scales, avoiding damage to any surrounding tissues. The rolled up robot can transport particles such as drugs, such as This soft little robot can help when we need to go through places such as the digestive system.

When the robot is exposed to a high-frequency magnetic field, the metal inside heats up to more than 70°C, a temperature that can be used in a variety of medical procedures, such as treating blood clots, stopping bleeding and removing tumor tissue. The robot can move freely to the disease, and can reach some places that are difficult to reach with current instruments, which greatly improves the safety and universality of treatment. Therefore, pangolin robots are widely favored in the medical industry.

The research team used animal viscera to conduct a medical test of the gastrointestinal tract of the robot, and put a robot with 50 μm thick aluminum scales and an overlapping rate of 50% into a standard-sized “0” gelatin capsule for oral administration, which can These robots are non-invasively deployed in hard-to-reach tortuous regions, such as the small intestine, which is difficult to access using established techniques such as endoscopy or colonoscopy. It was concluded that the robots can be used by two mechanisms, Joule heating or hysteresis loss. Heating is achieved by an alternating or radio frequency field.

The research and development team expressed their hopes for the future of the pangolin robot: “One day, it can reach the narrowest and most sensitive areas of the body in a minimally invasive and gentle way, and emit heat as needed.”

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