Soft Iron/Silicon Composite Tubes for Magnetic Peristaltic Pumping: Frequency-Dependent Pressure and Volume Flow



The combination of force and flexibility enables controlled and soft movements. In sharp contrast, presently used machines are solid and mostly based on stiff driveshafts or cog wheels. Magnetic elastomers are realized through dispersion of small particles in polymer matrices and have attracted significant interest as soft actuators for controlled movement or conveying and are particularly attractive candidates for magnetic pump applications. At present, low magnetic particle loading and thus limited actuator strength have restricted the application of such materials. Here, the direct incorporation of metal microparticles into a very soft and flexible silicone and its application as an ultra-flexible, yet strong magnetic tube, is described. Because metals have a far higher saturation magnetization and higher density than oxides, the resulting increased force/volume ratio afforded significantly stronger magnetic actuators with high mechanical stability, flexibility, and shape memory. Elliptical inner diameter shape of the tubing allowed a very efficient contraction of the tube by applying an external magnetic field. The combination of magnetic silicone tubes and a magnetic field generating device results in a magnetic peristaltic pump.