Poo-bleck

It's not a turd! Watch this poop-shaped slime robot fix circuits, change shapes, and so much more

Mengmeng Sun

Mengmeng Sun

Don’t fear the blob.

Even though this crawling object looks a bit fecal, it’s not a turd inching across a table.

In fact, it’s a robot made of slime.

And one day, it might even worm its way through your organs.

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Mengmeng Sun

Last week, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Harbin Institute of Technology in China described their creation: a magnetic slime robot that can squeeze into tight spaces, rollover uneven ground, and grab small items.

It was detailed in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

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The base of the slime is a non-Newtonian fluid.

Magnetic particles are mixed in so that they can be controlled with external magnets.

Magnets can manipulate the robot into different shapes to collect tiny items.

Sun et. al/Advanced Functional Materials

The slime’s stretchy properties mean that multiple magnets can manipulate it in different directions so that the slime can grab several objects at once.

Sun et. al/Advanced Functional Materials

It even has the ability to “self-heal” when cut or poked.

Sun et. al/Advanced Functional Materials

The device could be used for a number of applications.

In the human body, it could retrieve small items that were accidentally swallowed, reports New Scientist.

Mengmeng Sun

The substance can squeeze easily into tight spaces, making it ideal for worming through the intestines.

And its ability to wrap around objects would ensure that a foreign body stuck inside the intestines is captured and disposed of.

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However, the robot would need to undergo further safety testing. Namely, researchers would need to ensure that the metal filings, which are toxic, don’t sneak out of the slime while it's inside the body.

The researchers say the device could also be used to repair circuits or transport items that are potentially dangerous to humans.

Sun et. al/Advanced Functional Materials

Not only is the device literally flexible, but it could one day find applications in many different fields. The best could be yet to come.

Sun et. al/Advanced Functional Materials