These Slime Robots Are Not Toys – They’re Used For Surgery

The usual colorful slime used for playtime | Image Credit: Babbledabbledoo

These slime robots are not to be played with. Scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong created this goo-bot as a means to achieve minimally invasive surgeries.

With the main goal of producing a tool that can retrieve accidentally swallowed objects from a person’s digestive system, the researchers concocted a soft-bodied robot with visco-elastic properties that can negotiate through narrow channels with a diameter of 1.5 mm and maneuver on multiple substrates in complex environments.

Through its magnetic particles, the medical slime can be controlled externally by magnets to engulf objects needed to be retrieved.

The Reconfigurable Magnetic Slime Robot undergoing different deformations to wrap around wires, engulf objects, and pass through a model digestive tract | Image Credit: Wiley Online Library

The dark-colored ooze is composed of neodymium magnet particles with household detergent borax and resin polyvinyl alcohol. To shield living tissues from neodymium’s toxicity, a silica coating is applied on the magnetic particles.

The non-Newtonian fluid-based magnetic slime, according to co-creator Professor Li Zhang, behaves like a solid when touched very quickly, allowing it to grasp objects, and shifts to a liquid state when manipulated gently and slowly, allowing it to navigate narrow channels.

According to the researchers’ study, other functions of the slime robot include human motion monitoring, and circuit switching and repair as it also has the ability to conduct electricity.

Further studies are being done to ensure these slime robots are safe to use inside the human body.

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