Who picks up our plastic waste? This little robot is shaped like a fish!

subordinate Microplastics-It’s everywhere. From the peaks of the Alps to the iceSouth Pole Passes through Mariana Trench. Everywhere. Even in our area lungs And in our blood. Small pieces of plastic. invisibleeye naked. But, taken together, they would constitute, according to researchers’ estimates, millions of tons waste. The problem, as you can imagine, is that it is very difficult to get rid of these microplastics from the environment.

this challenge Sichuan University researchers (China) noted however. Today they present a small robot – no more than 15 mm long – in the shape of a fish whose sole purpose is to “to swim” As soon as possible Water-borne microplastics. Pick them up and get rid of them. All are driven by flashes of light.

They’re not the first to think about it, you can imagine. But the idea was not so easy to implement. Because the hope of reaching the bottom of our rivers’ smallest fissures, these robots must be inevitably resilient. Hassan. subordinate soft robots, it exists. They are made of thisHydrogels or plastics. Unfortunately, these materials are easily damaged in contact with water. Bad choice. So attempts have so far failed to confront the bots, which have been damaged very quickly.

Therefore, to find inspiration, researchers at Sichuan University turned to nature. towards this Material developed by some slugs To protect against attacks: mother-of-pearl. One item at a time SolidDurable and flexible. The researchers basically wanted to copy the multi-layered structure of mother-of-pearl. With, on the one hand, compounds based on Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) On the other hand, protein of silk.

Improvements to be made, but promising beginnings

The materials on which the researchers relied are completely different. They first went to look for molecules of β-cyclodextrin (C42h70a35). Molecules that chemists call cage molecules. Because they make it possible to encapsulate other molecules. It is widely used in the food industry and in the pharmaceutical industry. Here, the researchers added a sulfonated derivative of graphene to form composite nanosheets. They put everything in a solution and combined them into different concentrations of mixtures latex of polyurethane. Then, thanks to the layer-by-layer grouping method I created a file regression regulated focus NanomaterialsThey were able to obtain the materials from which to make their fish. A material that, moreover, is self-repairable – thanks to hydrogen bonds who can reorganize – thus ensuring a life Longer for the mini robot.

Then only left “to give life” For this little fish, specifically. By transmitting towards its tail, it flashes laser Soon Infrared. What to activate the respective tail and put in it a movement. To enable her to achieve the same gears that Phytoplankton when moving in the water. Speeds of up to four centimeters per second. That’s just over 2.5 times the length of his body. register!

Once launched, the tiny robot sneaks up to pick up the microplastics around it. On the surface just for the time being. In fact, the waste remains “skin”. Like magic? No way. Magic has nothing to do with it. It really is the science that moves. Here, it is through chemical reactions that microplastics are attracted to the robot fish. And it is still science that has to do a little more to improve the functionality of this great innovation. The goal: that it can, in the long run, really contribute to Fighting plastic pollution. Follow…

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