A new product made from ordinary paper has been developed by a team of researchers which could be used as a low-cost material in robotics devices.
Magnetic ferropaper was created at Purdue University and scientists have suggested that it could be used in micromotors for surgical instruments, miniature speakers or as tweezers when studying cells.
Babak Ziaie, professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering, explained: "Because paper is very soft it won't damage cells or tissue. It is very inexpensive to make. You put a droplet on a piece of paper and that is your actuator, or motor."
He pointed out that paper is a "porous matrix", so it has the potential to be loaded up with materials.
The nanoparticle-laden paper is impregnated with a mixture of mineral oil and magnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide, which then allows scientists to manipulate it using a magnetic field.
Last month, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University used nanoparticles in a new treatment for healing skin.