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Art of Science image titled Kane and Kanaloa 1
Kane and Kanaloa

Scientist Collaborator Gelson J. Pagan-Diaz

Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Laboratory

Zeiss LSM 710 Confocal Microscope

When we think of robots, we often picture rigid Terminator-style giants with halting, awkward gaits. While miniature versions of these exist, usually made of metals, ceramics, and hard plastics, there has also been a push to develop soft robots that take on tasks that hard robots cannot. Inspired by soft creatures, like octopi that have entirely pliable bodies, these machines can help in invasive surgery or disaster relief scenarios, where they need to squeeze through small crevices.

The original research image depicts a substrate that is being developed for soft robotics to help researchers study the interface between nerves and muscle fibers. Created by layering the brain tissue with the substrate, the composition reflects the back-and-forth communication that occurs between us and the gadgets we control.