Whitesides Research

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This video shows a Nylon screw being oriented and manipulated, without contact, using Magnetic levitation (MagLev). The screw levitates in a solution of the paramagnetic salt, manganese (II) chloride. The paramagnetic liquid is attracted to regions of high magnetic field strength, i.e. towards the surfaces of the magnet. Thus, in the MagLev device, the screw experiences a net force that pushes it away from the surface of the magnets towards the center of the device where the magnetic field is smallest — the screw levitates in the liquid. The magnetic force acts as an “invisible gripper” that holds the screw in place. This property allows the screw to be manipulated and rotated simply by rotating the MagLev device. External magnets may also be used to further manipulate the object. MagLev is versatile; it is capable of manipulating and orienting not only hard objects such as the Nylon screw shown here, but also soft objects, and objects of irregular shape. Because controlling the orientation of objects in space is a prerequisite for assembling complex structures from simpler components, this paper extends MagLev into, among others, 3D self-assembly, robotic assembly, and noncontact (stiction-free) orientation of hard and soft objects for applications in biomimetics, soft robotics, and stimulus-responsive materials.
This work is described in "Noncontact Orientation of Objects in Three Dimensional Space Using Magnetic Levitation", Subramaniam, A.B, Yang.D., Yu.H., Nemiroski.A., Tricard.S., Ellerbee.A.K, Soh.S., and Whitesides.G.M., PNAS, 2014, 111, 12980-12985
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2014
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