CLEVELAND, Ohio – Materials inspired by the sea cucumber, squid beak and pine cone could one day lead to a soft-sided worm-like robot that could crawl through blood vessels.
Developing functional materials inspired by substances found in nature will be the focus of an international research team led by a Case Western Reserve University professor who received a $5.5 million five-year federal grant.
“We’re studying materials and objects found in nature, then reducing the materials for practical use,” LaShanda Korley, an associate professor of macromolecular science and engineering at CWRU, said in a statement.
The sea cucumber’s skin is typically soft and pliable, but can become rigid as a defense mechanism against predators. The tip of the squid beak can cut through muscle and bone, but the fleshy part near the squid’s mouth is 100 times softer. The pinecone opens in dry air and closes when wet.
The bioinspired materials produced in the project will be tested in soft-sided robots, but are expected to have a wide range of practical uses.
The robots could burrow through the earth or building wreckage on search-and rescue-missions, crawl inside waterlines and oil and gas pipelines to inspect them and, if miniaturized, deliver a stent or remove plaque by crawling through a blood vessel.
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.