Engineers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed a group of small, disk-shaped machines that function like “warehouse robots” to move and deposit tiny droplets with great precision.
Sam Emaminejad, senior author of the study, said: “We were inspired by the transformative impact of networked mobile robotic systems on industries such as manufacturing, storage and logistics, such as those used to sort and transport parcels The Amazon warehouse system. So we set out to achieve the same level of automation and mobility in a microfluidic environment. However, our “warehouses” are much smaller, about the size of your palm, while our cargo (droplets) ) is only a few tenths of a millimeter.”
Image source: MEMS
The test area for this study was approximately the size of an index card (12.5cm x 9.5cm card) and was equipped with an internal structure and a test tray to hold a small amount of liquid. The robots are about 2 mm (0.8 in) in diameter and are manipulated by electromagnetic bricks integrated into the platform, which tug at 10 cm (4 in) per second in a predetermined path.
Wenzhuo Yu, lead author of the paper, said: “We set the timing and position of opening and closing the tiles to guide the iron robots through their designated routes. This allowed us to have multiple robots in the same space. Work at a relatively fast pace to get things done efficiently.”
In the future, this research can allow scientists engaged in the research and development of microfluidics (Microfluid) technology to no longer rely on large and clumsy machines to manage samples, but to hand over this management work to micro robots, which can greatly improve processing efficiency.