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Scientists design tiny ‘magic carpet’

Inspired by the magic carpet featured in the folk tale of ‘Aladdin’, researchers have designed a two-dimensional, shape-changing sheet that moves autonomously in a reactant-filled fluid. The ‘magic carpet’ in tales from One Thousand and One Nights captures the imagination not only because it can fly, but because it can also wave, flap and alter its shape to serve its riders.“It’s long been a challenge in chemistry to create a non-living object that moves on its own within an environment, which in turn alters the object’s shape, allowing it to carry out brand new tasks, like trapping other objects,” said Anna C. Balazs from the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S.In the study published in the journal Science Advances , the team modelled spherical and rectangular particles that can move autonomously within a fluid-filled micro-chamber. “Now we have this integrated system that utilises a chemical reaction to activate the fluid motion that simultaneously transports a flexible object and ‘sculpts’ its shape, and it all happens autonomously,” Ms. Balazs said.The group accomplished this feat by introducing a coating of catalysts on the flexible sheet. The addition of reactants to the surrounding fluid initiates both the carpet’s motion and the changes of its form.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/scientists-design-tiny-magic-carpet/article25904706.ece

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