Professor Anderson H.C. Shum of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and his team unveiled the invention of an all-water robotic system that resolves these constraints through revolutionary advances. The research paper “Aquabots” is recently published by ACS Nano on July 29, 2022.
Details of the publication:
Shipei Zhu, Ganhua Xie, Huanqing Cui, Qingchuan Li, Joe Forth, Shuai Yuan, Jingxuan Tian, Yi Pan, Wei Guo, Yu Chai, Yage Zhang, Zhenyu Yang, Ryan Wing Hei Yu, Yafeng Yu, Sihan Liu, Youchuang Chao, Yinan Shen, Sai Zhao, Thomas P Russell, and Ho Cheung Shum, Article in ACS Nano,
Soft robots, made from elastomers, easily bend and flex, but deformability constraints severely limit navigation through and within narrow, confined spaces. Using aqueous two-phase systems we print water-in-water constructs that, by aqueous phase-separation-induced self-assembly, produce ultrasoft liquid robots, termed aquabots, comprised of hierarchical structures that span in length scale from the nanoscopic to microsciopic, that are beyond the resolution limits of printing and overcome the deformability barrier. The exterior of the compartmentalized membranes is easily functionalized, for example, by binding enzymes, catalytic nanoparticles, and magnetic nanoparticles that impart sensitive magnetic responsiveness. These ultrasoft aquabots can adapt their shape for gripping and transporting objects and can be used for targeted photocatalysis, delivery, and release in confined and tortuous spaces. These biocompatible, multicompartmental, and multifunctional aquabots can be readily applied to medical micromanipulation, targeted cargo delivery, tissue engineering, and biomimetics.