‘Ferropaper’ a low-cost way to make small motors, robots

January 6th, 2010 - 5:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 6 (ANI): Scientists in the U.S. have developed a magnetic ‘ferropaper’ that could be used to make low-cost ‘micromotors’ for surgical instruments, tiny tweezers to study cells and miniature speakers.

Researchers at Purdue University say that the material is made by impregnating ordinary paper with a mixture of mineral oil and ‘magnetic nanoparticles’ of iron oxide.

The nanoparticle-laden paper can then be moved using a magnetic field.

“Paper is a porous matrix, so you can load a lot of this material into it,” said Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering.

The new technique represents a low-cost way to make small stereo speakers, miniature robots or motors for a variety of potential applications, including tweezers to manipulate cells and flexible fingers for minimally invasive surgery.

“Because paper is very soft it won’t damage cells or tissue. It is very inexpensive to make. You put a droplet on a piece of paper, and that is your actuator, or motor,” Ziaie said.

Once saturated with this ‘ferrofluid’ mixture, the paper is coated with a biocompatible plastic film, which makes it water resistant, prevents the fluid from evaporating and improves mechanical properties such as strength, stiffness and elasticity.

Findings will be detailed in a research paper being presented during the 23rd IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems on Jan. 24-28 in Hong Kong. (ANI)

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