Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Nanoscale, 2024, 16, 1125. DOI: 10.1039/d3nr03516f


Used by permission.


Soft polymeric microrobots that can be loaded with nanocargoes and driven via external field stimuli can provide innovative solutions in various fields, including precise microscale assembly, targeted therapeutics, microsurgery, and the capture and degradation of unwanted wastewater fragments. However, in aquatic environments, it remains challenging to operate with microrobotic devices due to the predominant viscous resistances and the robots’ limited actuation and sensing capabilities attributed to their miniaturization. The miniature size prevents the incorporation of onboard batteries that can provide sufficient power for propulsion and navigation, necessitating a wireless power supply. Current research examines untethered microrobot manipulation using external magnetic, electric, thermodynamic, or acoustic fieldguided technologies: all strategies capable of wireless energy transmission towards sensitive and hard-toreach locations. Nonetheless, developing a manipulation strategy that harnesses simple-to-induce strong propulsive forces in a stable manner over extended periods of time remains a significant endeavor. This study presents the fabrication and manipulation of a microrobot consisting of a magnetized soft polymeric composite material that enables a combination of stable acoustic propulsion through starfishinspired artificial cilia and magnetic field-guided navigation. The acousto-magnetic manipulation strategy leverages the unique benefits of each applied field in the viscous-dominated microscale, namely precise magnetic orientation and strong acoustic thrust.