Thursday, July 18, 2024

Soft Robotic Hand For Future Surgical Applications

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Liquid crystals, recognised for their dual liquid-solid properties, and graphene, known for its strength and conductivity, provide an ideal combination for soft robotics.

In the future, soft robots could play crucial roles in surgical procedures, offering enhanced precision and flexibility. Current soft robots, often containing metals, face limitations in water-rich environments like the human body.  The new design by TU/e researchers addresses this issue. They created a soft robotic gripper made from organic materials, paving the way for safer surgical applications. Eindhoven researchers have developed a soft robotic “hand” made from liquid crystals and graphene, aiming to revolutionise future surgical robots. 

Robots already significantly impact various sectors, from manufacturing to healthcare. Systems like the da Vinci surgical robot allow for minimally invasive operations, and household robots perform tasks like vacuuming. Society’s reliance on robots is growing, and we’re constantly finding new ways to use them, This requires innovative materials to enhance their functionality. Soft robots hold particular promise in surgical settings, where precision and dexterity are crucial. Surgeons often need extreme precision, which isn’t always possible with rigid robots. Soft robots can access challenging areas, offering new solutions for tasks like clamping and suturing.

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Advancing Soft Robotics

The team emphasised the importance of using easily deformable materials like fluids, gels, and elastics. Traditional robots, made from rigid metals, often face performance limitations. In contrast, soft robotics aims to create flexible robots that can adapt to specific situations while maintaining functionality. For their research, the team used liquid crystals and graphene to develop a soft gripper with four controllable, deformable “fingers.” They mentioned that a liquid crystal can act like a liquid or a solid based on its excitation. This dual behaviour is perfect for creating soft robots. The researchers designed an actuator to control the gripper’s motion, utilising heat-activated graphene elements to drive the liquid-crystal network actuators. This work marks a step towards integrating soft robots in surgical applications, promising enhanced precision and flexibility in future medical procedures.

Akanksha Gaur
Akanksha Gaur
Akanksha Sondhi Gaur is a journalist at EFY. She has a German patent and brings a robust blend of 7 years of industrial & academic prowess to the table. Passionate about electronics, she has penned numerous research papers showcasing her expertise and keen insight.

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