Miklós Zrínyi of Semmelweiss University in Budapest, Hungary, has created some gels that are anything but gellin’. In fact, these gels are moving, shaking, and otherwise getting around with a little help from magnetism. The gel “snakes”–made from a mix of polymer and metal particles–bend to match the shape of any magnetic field exerted upon them.
That means with a little ingenuity, these gels can be manipulated in a variety of ways using either permanent magnets or electromagnets, depending on the shape and strength of the fields. As you can see in the video below, that means you can make them do all kinds of quirky things. But as New Scientist notes, a magnetic material that’s also soft and flexible could find an array of applications, like in artificial robot muscles or to replace machine parts that are usually rigid with softer alternatives.