Spatially and Reversibly Actuating Soft Gel Structure by Harnessing Multimode Elastic Instabilities

Liu, Yingzhi, Sun, Ansu, Sridhar, Sreepathy, Li, Zhenghong, Qin, Zhuofan, Liu, Ji, Chen, Sherry, Lu, Haibao, Zhong Tang, Ben and Xu, Bin (2021) Spatially and Reversibly Actuating Soft Gel Structure by Harnessing Multimode Elastic Instabilities. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 13 (30). pp. 36361-36369. ISSN 1944-8244

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Autonomous shape transformation is key in developing high-performance soft robotics technology; the search for pronounced actuation mechanisms is an ongoing mission. Here, we present the programmable shape morphing of a three-dimensional (3D) curved gel structure by harnessing multimode mechanical instabilities during free swelling. First of all, the coupling of buckling and creasing occurs at the dedicated region of the gel structure, which is attributed to the edge and surface instabilities resulted from structure-defined spatial nonuniformity of swelling. The subsequent developments of post-buckling morphologies and crease patterns collaboratively drive the structural transformation of the gel part from the “open” state to the “closed” state, thus realizing the function of gripping. By utilizing the multi-stimuli-responsive nature of the hydrogel, we recover the swollen gel structure to its initial state, enabling reproducible and cyclic shape evolution. The described soft gel structure capable of shape transformation brings a variety of advantages, such as easy to fabricate, large strain transformation, efficient actuation, and high strength-to-weight ratio, and is anticipated to provide guidance for future applications in soft robotics, flexible electronics, offshore engineering, and healthcare products.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under Grant Nos. 11672342 and 11725208 and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant-EP/N007921 and Royal Society Kan Tong Po International Fellowship 2019-KTP \R1\191012.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hydrogel, swelling, creasing, buckling, shape transformation
Subjects: H300 Mechanical Engineering
H800 Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
H900 Others in Engineering
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2021 10:55
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2022 03:31

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