©reconfigurable microrobots/2016 EPFL/ ETHZ

Miniature robots are designed to enter the human body, where they can deliver drugs at specific locations or perform precise operations like clearing clogged-up arteries. A simple and versatile method was developed for building such robots and equipping them with advanced features.

The microrobots are soft, flexible, and motor-less, and are made of a biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles, which give the microrobots their shape during the manufacturing process, and make them move and swim when an electromagnetic field is applied. Once the final shape is achieved, and the robot is heated, the robot changes shape and “unfolds.”