Researchers invent robotic droplet handlers to clean up hazardous liquids

Researchers invent robotic droplet handlers to clean up hazardous liquids

Credit: Colorado State University

CSU researchers have created the first robotic soft gripper capable of manipulating individual liquid droplets, according to a recent article in the journal. Material prospects.

This breakthrough is the product of a collaboration between two different laboratories in CSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. It was accomplished by combining two applied technologies, Soft robots And the coatings are super hateful.

The soft robotic manipulator is made of inexpensive materials such as nylon fibers and tape. It is operated by an electrically activated artificial muscle. The combination can be used to produce handles that are lightweight, inexpensive, and capable of precision work, yet 100 times stronger than human muscles for the same weight.

The result is something that goes against our cultural notion of what it is Robot He is and what he can do.

Conventional robots are made of heavy, rigid and expensive components. This makes it unsuitable for some tasks.

On the other hand, soft robots can be lightweight and provide a gentle touch that is difficult to achieve with conventional robots. They are much lighter and can be produced at a fraction of the cost of their rigid cousins.

Credit: Colorado State University

“One gripper the size of my finger is equal to a gram or two, including the built-in artificial muscle. And it’s inexpensive—just a dollar or two,” said Jifeng Sun, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Adaptive Robotics Laboratory and colleagues. – First author on the paper.

The smooth robotic clutch is treated with a bulletproof coating that makes drop handling possible. The anti-fouling coating resists wetting of nearly all types of liquids, even in dynamic situations where the contact surfaces tilt or move. When applied to a soft robotic manipulator, the coating enables it to interact with the droplets without breaking them Surface tensionso that it can catch, move and release individual droplets as if they were elastic solids.

The highly hydrophobic coatings used in droplet handlers were developed at South Carolina State University by assistant professor Aaron Kota (now at North Carolina State University) and postdoctoral fellow Wei Wang (now assistant professor at the University of Tennessee). Wang and Kota also contributed to the article.

“It’s a wonderful synergy between these two types of research. Dr. Kota has been working on this very well paintCo-author Jianguo Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering at CSU and director of the Adaptive Robotics Lab, said:

In the early stages of their research, the team had difficulty getting the attention of journal editors. The COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity to point out the potential of their invention.

“Because of the epidemic, handling dangerous infectious substances is a hot topic. So we added blood manipulation experiment after the first revision,” Sun said. “This genre helped us pass the review process.”

The combination of inexpensive materials and innovative capabilities has exciting applications. In many liquid spill scenarios, human cleanup can be dangerous due to toxicity, risk of infection, or other hazards in the surroundings. These drop handlers are inexpensive enough to use once, yet capable enough to do precise, lossless liquid cleaning work that no other robot has ever done.

“It’s the first example, but it’s also a very unusual example of a high-tech product that’s very inexpensive,” Zhao said.

more information:
Wei Wang et al, On-demand, remote, and lossless manipulation of biofluidic droplets, Material prospects (2022). DOI: 10.1039/D2MH00695B

the quote: Soft Skills: Researchers Invent Robotic Droplets for Cleaning Hazardous Liquids (2022, November 17) Retrieved November 17, 2022 from

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