Programmable aniso-electrodeposited modular hydrogel microrobots

Sci Adv. 2022 Dec 14;8(50):eade6135. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.ade6135. Epub 2022 Dec 14.


Systems with programmable and complex shape morphing are highly desired in many fields wherein sensing, actuation, and manipulation must be performed. Living organisms use nonuniform distributions of their body structural composition to achieve diverse shape morphing, motion, and functionality. However, for the microrobot fabrication, these designs often involve complicated robotic architectures requiring time-consuming and arduous fabrication processes. This paper proposes a single-step aniso-electrodeposition method for fabricating modular microrobots (MMRs) with distinct functions in each modular segment. By programming the electric field, the microscale stripe-shaped structure can be endowed with diverse shape-morphing capabilities, such as spiraling, twisting, bending, and coiling. The proposed fabrication method can develop MMRs with multiple independent modules onto which cells, drugs, and magnetic nanoparticles can be loaded to achieve multifunctionality. Thus, MMRs can perform multiple tasks, such as propulsion, grasping, and object delivery, simultaneously under magnetic control and ionic and pH stimuli.