science

New magnetic spray transforms pills into mini robots that can be navigated throughout the body


A magnetic spray is capable to turning objects into moving robots, which could be used to navigate drugs throughout the body.

Scientists at the City University in Hong Kong revealed the innovation made of polyvinyl alcohol, gluten and iron particles.

Called ‘M-spray,’ it is capable of sticking on the targeted object and when it activates, allows the object to walk, roll and crawl using a magnetic field.

The team foresees their creation being applied to pills, which doctors to move to a targeted part of the body.

A magnetic spray is capable to turning objects into moving robots, which could be used to navigate drugs throughout the body. Scientists at the City University in Hong Kong revealed the innovation made of polyvinyl alcohol, gluten and iron particles

A magnetic spray is capable to turning objects into moving robots, which could be used to navigate drugs throughout the body. Scientists at the City University in Hong Kong revealed the innovation made of polyvinyl alcohol, gluten and iron particles

Dr Shen Yajing, who led the research team, told New Atlas: ‘Our idea is that by putting on this ‘magnetic coat’, we can turn any objects into a robot and control their locomotion.’

‘All the raw materials of M-spray, namely PVA, gluten and iron particles, are biocompatible.’

‘The disintegrated coating could be absorbed or excreted by the human body.’

A film forms after an object when sprayed that is less than a quarter of a millimeter thick, allowing the object to keep its original form.

The spray can also be removed from an objected using an oscillating magnetic field to break it down into a powder – all while leaving the object intact.

Yajing told New Scientist that the powder is then pushed out by the body.

The spray is designed like little metal particles that form to the shape of the object. The locomotion mode can also be reprogrammed on demand by wetting the solidified coating, turning it into a glue-like substance

The spray is designed like little metal particles that form to the shape of the object. The locomotion mode can also be reprogrammed on demand by wetting the solidified coating, turning it into a glue-like substance

The locomotion mode can also be reprogrammed on demand by wetting the solidified coating, turning it into a glue-like substance.

Then, by applying a strong magnetic field, the magnetic particles within the coating can be redistributed and realigned, changing the way the robot reacts to the magnetic field.

In experiments, the team coated capsules with the spray and administered them to anesthetized rabbits.

The pills were tracked through the rabbit’s body using radiology imagining.

Researchers watched as the coating dissolved when the capsule reached the targeted location.

‘We hope this construction strategy can contribute to the development and application of millirobots in different fields, such as active transportation, moveable sensor and devices, particularly for the tasks in limited space,’ Yajing said.

The team believes the abilities demonstrate a number of biomedical applications, including catheter navigation and drug delivery.

By applying a strong magnetic field, the magnetic particles within the coating can be redistributed and realigned, changing the way the robot reacts to the magnetic field.

By applying a strong magnetic field, the magnetic particles within the coating can be redistributed and realigned, changing the way the robot reacts to the magnetic field.

In experiments, the team coated capsules with the spray and administered them to anesthetized rabbits. The pills were tracked through the rabbit¿s body using radiology imagining. Researchers watched as the coating dissolved when the capsule reached the targeted location

In experiments, the team coated capsules with the spray and administered them to anesthetized rabbits. The pills were tracked through the rabbit’s body using radiology imagining. Researchers watched as the coating dissolved when the capsule reached the targeted location

Yajing has been eyeing robots for years to help deliver drugs.

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In 2018, he and another team designed a tiny robot with ‘caterpillar’ legs could be used to carry drugs inside the human body.

Researchers behind the technology say it has the equivalent strength of a human able to lift a 26-seat minibus.

It can adapt to adverse environments and move efficiently along surfaces within the body lined with, or entirely immersed in, body fluids such as blood or mucus.



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