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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/hmx8-2d73

technical paper

MMM 2022

November 07, 2022

Minneapolis, United States

On Locomotion of Magnetized Spherical Solids in Soft Media

Most research on remotely driven magnetic micro-robots focuses on their manipulation within fluids 1. Actuating their motion in soft media and living tissue raises challenges along with new opportunities for minimally invasive medicine. In contrast to fluids, moving solids in soft media irreversibly rearranges the material, leading to highly non-linear and history dependent reaction forces. The present work demonstrates that this behavior enables solutions of certain long-standing problems. One problem stems from using magnetic field gradients to generate forces which limits their range particularly for sub-millimeter size magnetic robots. Locomotion by the transfer of energy via a time varying uniform magnetic field provides an alternative. In fluids where locomotion effectively occurs through swimming at low Reynolds numbers, this strategy can be costly, requiring more complex shapes (e.g. a screw 2) and control over a non-reciprocal motion gait 3. In tissues, such complex shapes have difficulties in changing their trajectory direction over short distances. The novel finding in this work is that soft media enables locomotion of simple solids, such as a pair of spheres (see Fig. 1), without requiring them to execute a complex motion gait. Using an external uniform magnetic field to change the relative orientations of the magnetic moments, the disconnected spherical solids of slightly different diameters can locomote as one in a soft medium via ratchet-like movements that are completely reciprocal. Such a configuration also allows the pair to change the direction of locomotion quickly. A demonstration is carried out in this work via development of a theoretical model and its numerical simulation, although some experimental observations support these findings.


1 J. J. Abbott et al., "How should microrobots swim?," The international journal of Robotics Research, vol. 28, no. 11-12, pp. 1434-1447, 2009.
2 T. W. Fountain, P. V. Kailat, and J. J. Abbott, "Wireless control of magnetic helical microrobots using a rotating-permanent-magnet manipulator," in 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2010: IEEE, pp. 576-581.
3 E. Lauga, "Life around the scallop theorem," Soft Matter, vol. 7, no. 7, pp. 3060-3065, 2011.


Transcript English (automatic)

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