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This robot made of magnetic slime is gross, but brilliant

Published Apr 4th, 2022 11:05AM EDT

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Scientists have managed to make a magnetic slime that looks disgusting but is actually quite astounding, if not a tad creepy. The slime is made from a blend of a polymer called polyvinyl alcohol, borax, and magnet particles. It’s an interesting combination that scientists hope to one day be able to use inside of the human body.

This magnetic slime has loads of potential

Scientists hope to one day be able to use the “soft robot” to enter the human body and remove items from hard-to-reach places. In a tweet shared by New Scientist, you can watch as the slime moves around within different areas.

There are currently no robotics inside of the slime. Scientists say they are able to control the magnetic slime thanks to the neodymium magnet particles placed inside. This allows the scientists to stretch the slime out in different directions, allowing it to move through very tight spaces. The magnets inside the slime also allow it to surround and envelop various pellets and move them around. The creators also say that it is capable of conducting electricity.

The invention itself is quite intriguing. While it might look like a glob of brown goop, the possibilities that the magnetic slime could be used for are promising. A study on the slime was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Ultimately, the scientists hope to be able to use it like a robot.

It has a long way to go before it’s safe to use

magnetic slimeImage source: Sun, Tian, Zhang et. al./Chinese University of Hong Kong / New Scientist / YouTube

While the slime itself is promising, we have a long way to go before it’s safe to use, at least in medical environments. The magnetic slime is made of toxic chemicals, including the neodymium magnet particles. As such, scientists say we’ll need to ensure they cannot leak into the body before we can use the slime in surgeries or operations.

Currently, the scientists have placed a layer of silica around the magnetic slime. Silica is the main component in sand, and it should form a hypothetically safe barrier around it. However, one of the slime’s creators says the effectiveness of that layer will depend on how long you keep the slime inside of the body. They scientists say you could add color dyes or pigments to give the slime a more alluring color.

Yes, we seem to be a way off from utilizing the slime in any kind of medical procedures. However, it is still amazing to see how scientists have brought something like this to life. And, if they are able to get it to work safely within the confines of the human body, it could make some invasive medical procedures much easier on the patient and the doctors. If nothing else, at least MIT taught a robot how to run.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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