A new type of all-terrain microbot that moves by tumbling could help usher in tiny machines for various applications.

The “microscale magnetic tumbling robot,” or µTUM (microTUM), is about 400 by 800 microns, or millionths of a meter, smaller than the head of a pin. A continuously rotating magnetic field propels the microbot in an end-over-end or sideways tumbling motion, which helps the microbot traverse uneven surfaces such as bumps and trenches, a difficult feat for other forms of motion.

“The µTUM is capable of traversing complex terrains in both dry and wet environments,” said David Cappelleri, an associate professor in Purdue University’s School of Mechanical Engineering and director of Purdue’s Multi-Scale Robotics and Automation Lab.

Findings are detailed in a research paper published online in the journal Micromachines (“Design of Microscale Magnetic Tumbling Robots for Locomotion in Multiple Environments and Complex Terrains”). The paper was authored by Purdue graduate student Chenghao Bi; postdoctoral research associate Maria Guix; doctoral student Benjamin V. Johnson; Wuming Jing, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lawrence Technological University; and Cappelleri.

The flat, roughly dumbbell-shaped microbot is made of a polymer and has two magnetic ends. A non-magnetic midsection might be used to carry cargo such as medications. Because the bot functions well in wet environments, it has potential biomedical applications.

Read more at nanowerk.com

Image Credit:  Purdue University image/Georges Adam

Recent News

A megalibrary of nanoparticles

Using straightforward chemistry and a mix-and-match, modular strategy, researchers have developed a simple approach that could produce over 65,000 different types of complex nanoparticles, each containing up to six [...]

Self-driving microrobots

Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms. If you could distribute autonomous microrobots within [...]