An aerosol has been designed that turns inanimate materials into insect-scale mobile machines

An aerosol has been designed that turns inanimate materials into insect-scale mobile machines

It is not a fragment of Frankenstein’s Monster by Mary Shelley : inanimate matter can be animated with a simple spray. The spray contains particles of iron, polyvinyl alcohol and gluten, which combine with the water to form sticky magnetic skins or ‘M skins’.

Thanks to the magnetic properties of the aerosol, ordinary objects such as origami paper and cotton thread have been brought to life , according to a study published in Science Robotics .


The researchers captured images of the ‘millirobots’ rolling, swimming and walking, but also performed tasks with a more relevant purpose: simulated biomedical procedures . Robotic catheters navigated the narrow blood vessels and egg-shaped capsules delivered drugs to the stomach of live rabbits.

This is the magic of this spray, which proposes a minimalist approach to building Millobots by coating inanimate objects with a composite bonded magnetic spray. As seen in the video, the real purpose of this experiment is to create millirobots capable of entering the arteries or stomach, and eliminating blockages thanks to movement, or releasing drugs:

This approach allows a variety of one-dimensional objects to be covered with a film thin enough to preserve the original size, morphology, and structure of the objects while providing performance up to hundreds of times its own weight. Under the activation of a magnetic field, millobots can demonstrate a variety of locomotive abilities.


In addition, the magnetic film of the millirobots can be reprogrammed and disintegrated at any time. The liquid begins to disintegrate after about eight minutes in a strongly acidic environment (pH 1), but its durability up to about 15 minutes if an additional layer of PVA is added, while if the iron particles are replaced by others nickel could be stable for even more than half an hour .