Robot-assisted chirality-tunable acoustic vortex tweezers for contactless, multifunctional, 4-DOF object manipulation

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American Association for the Advancement of Science


Robotic manipulation of small objects has shown great potential for engineering, biology, and chemistry research. However, existing robotic platforms have difficulty in achieving contactless, high-resolution, 4-degrees- of- freedom (4-DOF) manipulation of small objects, and noninvasive maneuvering of objects in regions shielded by tissue and bone barriers. Here, we present chirality-tunable acoustic vortex tweezers that can tune acoustic vortex chirality, transmit through biological barriers, trap single micro-to millimeter-sized objects, and control object rotation. Assisted by programmable robots, our acoustic systems further enable contactless, high-resolution translation of single objects. Our systems were demonstrated by tuning acoustic vortex chirality, controlling object rotation, and translating objects along arbitrary-shaped paths. Moreover, we used our systems to trap single objects in regions with tissue and skull barriers and translate an object inside a Y-shaped channel of a thick biomimetic phantom. In addition, we showed the function of ultrasound imaging–assisted acoustic manipulation by monitoring acoustic object manipulation via live ultrasound imaging.