Life-saving magnetic spray that turns inanimate objects into robots created

A life-saving magnetic spray that turns inanimate objects into robots has been created by scientists.

The high-tech gel binds on to tiny objects turning them into 'millirobots' that move within our bodies and lift 100 times their own weight using magnets.

Tests have shown coating catheters in the 0.1mm thick film allows doctors to make impossible 120 degree turns in blood vessels to remove clots.

Researchers said drug capsules could also be made to hard-to-reach areas of the digestive system and tackle as stomach ulcers.

The tech reminiscent of 'nanobots' from the Disney film Big Hero 6 is harmless to humans and comes off in minutes by altering the magnetic field.

Study author Associate Professor Yajing Shen, 37, told the Daily Star it could pass clinical trials and start saving lives in a year.

The patented mix of PVA, iron and gluten has also been used to give life to creepy 'jellyfish' and 'worm' robots as well as make origami structures move on their own.

The biomedical engineer at the City University of Hong Kong said: "If you have a very very thin catheter.. you can try to use this technique to make it from a passive catheter to an active one.

"It can remove a clot. We hope it can save lives.

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"This technique provides a measure to control small objects. We are still a bit far from that [nanobots] but hopefully in the future at least, we can control some mini objects."

Dr Shen added: "Our idea is that by putting on this 'magnetic coat', we can turn any objects into a robot and control their locomotion.

"The M-spray we developed can stick on the targeted object and 'activate' the object when driven by a magnetic field."

His research team's paper, published today in Science Robotics, said: "Insect-scale robots (or millirobots) may find use in biomedical, exploration, and other emerging applications that require distinct controllability, adaptability, safety, and integrity.

"Millirobots that can adapt to unstructured environments, operate in confined spaces, and interact with a diverse range of objects would be desirable for exploration and biomedical applications.

"The continued development of millirobots, however, requires simple and scalable fabrication techniques. Here, we propose a minimalist approach to constructing millirobots by coating inanimate objects with a composited agglutinate magnetic spray."

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