Möbius String Robot Goes Round And Round

While it doesn’t look like a traditional robot, the hydrogel robot from [Zi Liang Wu] forms a möbius strip and can be activated by light. They also experimented with shaping the hydrogels as a Seifert ribbon.

The key is that the hydrogels contain gold nanoparticles. Light heats the gold particles and this causes the hydrogels to move. The connections between the strips of hydrogels causes them to move in predictable ways. You can see a video about the experiments below.

These robots aren’t going to be for warehouse or factory work. But they can do tasks like collecting plastic beads, something difficult for conventional robots to do. They also hope to demonstrate that these soft robots could work in the body for taking samples or delivering a drug, although it isn’t apparent how light would get to them inside your body.

The dark side of the material tends to turn towards the light. The continuous loop structure means it never runs to the end of its travel. Watching it move on a string is pretty impressive.

Crawling and slithering robots may be the answer for certain specialized applications. After all, it works well in nature.

9 thoughts on “Möbius String Robot Goes Round And Round

  1. Philosophical question: Is it a robot or a light-powered actuator? Is a piezo-electric crystal with perhaps two tiny metal attachments a robot or an electric field-activated actuator?

  2. “The dark side of the material tends to turn towards the light.”

    I feel that there should be a philosophical awakening here, but all I can think about are moths being drawn to a bright light.
    In a world so in need of real solutions, I hope the researchers did not expend a lot of brain power on this animated hydrogel. (Instead of gold, maybe graphene nano particles?)

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