Water-cleaning beads grab microplastics and bacteria

Headline Science

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Reporting in ACS Nano, researchers made tiny magnetic beads that swarm through contaminated water picking up contaminants like microplastics and bacteria.

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Source Article

Magnetic Microrobot Swarms with Polymeric Hands Catching Bacteria and Microplastics in Water
ACS Nano
Corresponding author: Martin Pumera, Ph.D.


These swimming beads are cleaning up microplastics. In a rotating magnetic field, the tiny beads stick together and form clusters that can trap contaminants.

Researchers decorated magnetic beads with a polymer that attracts and traps plastics and bacteria. The swarms move in different directions depending on the magnetic field. They pick up contaminants like these bacteria as they swim along. Then they can be pulled from the water with a magnet and cleaned and reused.

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