Engineers discover new process for synthetic material growth, enabling soft robots that grow like plants

University of Minnesota Twin Cities materials science graduate student Matthew Hausladen works with a soft growing robot in Professor Chris Ellison’s polymer lab. Credit: Olivia Hultgren

An interdisciplinary team of University of Minnesota Twin Cities scientists and engineers has developed a first-of-its-kind, plant-inspired extrusion process that enables synthetic material growth. The new approach will allow researchers to build better soft robots that can navigate hard-to-reach places, complicated terrain, and potentially areas within the human body.

The paper is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, high-impact scientific journal.
“This is the first time …

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