Engineers learn to manage artificial cilia with magnetic fields of Earth

Engineers learned to control artificial cilia using magnetic fields and light. The development of researchers from the University of North Carolina is described in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.

In a new work, engineers created artificial cilia – hair-like structures that can take on a new shape in response to a magnetic field and then return to their original shape when exposed to a light source.

Our study expands the possibilities of magnetic cilia and an understanding of their behavior – this is an important discovery for soft robotics, including micro-robotics. The key point of this work is that we have demonstrated the impact with the form memory – our method allows you to set a new form, block the cilia in it, unlock and reconfigure.

Joe Tracy, lead author of the research

The discovery is based on earlier research by the soft robot team, which can be controlled with magnets and light. In the new version, the cilia are driven by magnetic moments, which means that they rotate and align with the field when exposed to a permanent magnet, rather than reaching for the magnet.

We hope this helps the research community develop ciliary systems with new capabilities for specific applications. And we believe that our work will help expand the capabilities of soft robotics.

Jessica Liu, co-author of the research