With the inspiration from the magical carpet from Disney’s Aladdin, the students of university of Pittsburg, have designed and created a two dimensional carpet, that can change shape and moves in reactant-filled fluid.

This was achieved by self-propulsion and realignment by putting a coat of catalysts over a flexible sheet, this is as wide as human hair. Owing to the addition of the reactants to fluid, the motion of carpet is initiated along with change in form.

A member of the project stated that “this is the only time these catalytic chemical responses have been applied to 2D sheets to produce flows that alter these sheets into mobile, 3D objects”.

Also, by using catalysts at various parts of the sheet and regulating the amount of reactants in the fluid a useful chain catalytic reaction was produced, by the group. This was owing to, one catalyst breaking down the associated chemical, which becomes a reactant and sets a chain reaction. By addition of other types of reactants at different proportions, allows different type of actions like enwrapping of an object, tumbling over objects and flapping motion. As part of various other experiments done in this, it was observed that in case if the catalyst are placed on the body of the sheet, instead of just the corners like head and tail, led to a creeping movement in the sheet. This is similar to that of an inchworm and gives a creepy visual.

urthermore, in another similar set of experiments it was observed that obstacles when placed in front of coated sheets, it would lead to tumbling of the obstacle, hence crossing over a bumpy terrain.

Also, the team members stated that if the sheet is cut in four-petal flower and kept near the surface of microfluidic device, it can be programmed to generate an opening-closing like motion. The experiment has helped in understanding how chemistry can drive spontaneous, automated and locomotive in microfluidic devices.

The team consisted of students and lead professors from University of Pittsburg and Swanson School of Engineering. This experiment was undertaken to overcome the ever present challenge of developing a non-living object that can move on its own in specific environment and also changes the shape of the object. Thus allowing it to take over new tasks like trapping above objects. The team is now further going to explore various other aspects of microfabrication by use of multiple sheets.