Swarming is a collective behavior of multiple bodies, organized in a synchronized fashion. Humans have managed to imitate animals swarm-like behaviors, such as bird flocking and fish schooling, by developing self-organized small robots and drones. But what a group of researchers has recently achieved pushed the biomimicry to a new height.
According to a report in the journal Nature Communications, the biomedical engineers and robotic experts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong came up with a method to manipulate colloidal magnetic nanoparticles using oscillating magnetic fields, creating ribbon-like micro-swarms. Through alternating the field's parameters, the researchers managed to group and ungroup tens of thousands of nanoparticles, direct the swarming body to any directions in its aqueous environment, and even guide them through obstacles.
The ultimate goal behind their work (on top of playing up a good trick), is to develop a solution for biomedical applications such as targeted delivery of medications and diagnostic agents. Moreover, they believe that the ribbon-like patterning of micro-swarm can provide inspiration for microfabrication and micromanipulation.
Source: Nature Video via Youtube