Shape-programmable magnetic miniature robots: from single to swarm

Date: 2021/03/16 - 2021/03/16

Academic Seminar: Shape-programmable magnetic miniature robots: from single to swarm

Speaker: Xiaoguang Dong, Postdoctoral Researcher at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, Germany

Time: 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., March 16th, 2021 (Beijing Time)

Location: via Zoom (Zoom Meeting ID: 681 1894 7675, Password: 857843)


Small-scale robots with an overall size less than 1 centimeter that can be wirelessly actuated and controlled by magnetic fields, could revolutionize minimally invasive medical operations by allowing access to enclosed small spaces inside the human body and performing medical operations such as drug delivery, onsite biofluid pumping and biopsy. However, when the robot sizes further scale down, their functions are significantly limited by the simple structure and low body volume. This talk will highlight our recent works on three classes of shape-programmable magnetically actuated miniature robots to tackle such a challenge. First, collective magnetically actuated miniature soft robots inspired by biological cilia are presented, which can pump viscous (bio)fluids efficiently by coordinating in an optimal motion pattern like their biological counterparts. Second, swarm magnetic microrobots are introduced, which could morph into versatile complex and programmable formations, navigate through very confined environments, and coordinate their motions for reconfigurable cooperative functions. Lastly, reconfigurable multifunctional ferrofluid droplets as soft robots are proposed to overcome the limitation of existing magnetically actuated miniature soft robots based on elastomers, i.e., they cannot navigate inside very clustered and constrained spaces and reconfigure their shapes in situ for diverse tasks, due to limited deformability and predesigned shapes. These shape-programmable magnetic miniature robots thus could potentially enable unprecedented functions in biomedicine, lab- or organ-on-a-chip, microfluidics, biomechanics, and other critical applications in the near future.


Xiaoguang Dong is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Physical Intelligence Department, at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, Germany. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering (specialized in Robotics) from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA in 2016 and 2019, respectively. His research focus on designing the shape-morphing behaviors (single-body deformation and collective formations) in various soft matter to create functional miniature soft machines or minimally invasive medical devices, tightly integrated with their wireless actuation (e.g. magnetic), control and sensing systems, for biomedicine, lab- or organ-on-a-chip, fluidics, and biomechanics applications.