Biodegradable Untethered Magnetic Hydrogel Milli-Grippers

Sandhya Rani Goudu, Immihan Ceren Yasa, Xinghao Hu, Hakan Ceylan, Wenqi Hu, Metin Sitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Small-scale magnetic soft-bodied robots based on biocompatible and biodegradable materials are essential for their potential high-impact minimally invasive medical applications inside the human body. Therefore, a strategy for fully biodegradable untethered soft millirobots with encoded 3D magnetic anisotropy for their static or dynamic shape programming is presented. Such a robot body is comprised of a porcine extracellular matrix-derived collagen-based hydrogel network with embedded superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs). 3D magnetization programming inside the hydrogel body is achieved by directionally self-assembled SPION chains using an external permanent magnet. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, a hydrogel milli-gripper that can undergo flexible and reversible shape deformations inside glycerol and biologically relevant liquid media is presented. The gripper can perform cargo grabbing, transportation by rolling, and release by controlling magnetic field inputs. These milli-grippers can be completely degraded by the matrix metalloproteinase-2 enzyme in physiologically relevant concentrations. Furthermore, biocompatibility tests using human umbilical cord vein endothelial cells with the degradation products of the grippers demonstrate no acute toxicity. The approach offers a facile fabrication strategy for designing biocompatible and biodegradable soft robots using nanocomposite materials with programmable 3D magnetic anisotropy toward future medical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2004975
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 8 2020


  • biocompatible
  • biodegradable
  • medical devices
  • millirobot
  • soft robot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrochemistry
  • Biomaterials


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