Jan 102010
 

(Credit: Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

The new technique represents a low-cost way to make small stereo speakers, miniature robots or motors

Researchers at Purdue University have created a magnetic “ferropaper” that might be used to make low-cost “micromotors” for surgical instruments, tiny tweezers to study cells and miniature speakers.

The material is made by impregnating ordinary paper — even newsprint — with a mixture of mineral oil and “magnetic nanoparticles” of iron oxide. The nanoparticle-laden paper can then be moved using a magnetic field.

“Paper is a porous matrix, so you can load a lot of this material into it,” said Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering.

The new technique represents a low-cost way to make small stereo speakers, miniature robots or motors for a variety of potential applications, including tweezers to manipulate cells and flexible fingers for minimally invasive surgery.

“Because paper is very soft it won’t damage cells or tissue,” Ziaie said. “It is very inexpensive to make. You put a droplet on a piece of paper, and that is your actuator, or motor.”

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