Wirelessly Actuated Thermo- and Magneto-Responsive Soft Bimorph Materials with Programmable Shape-Morphing

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Original languageEnglish
Article number2100336
Journal / PublicationAdvanced Materials
Issue number30
Online published28 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes



Soft materials that respond to wireless external stimuli are referred to as “smart” materials due to their promising potential in real-world actuation and sensing applications in robotics, microfluidics, and bioengineering. Recent years have witnessed a burst of these stimuli-responsive materials and their preliminary applications. However, their further advancement demands more versatility, configurability, and adaptability to deliver their promised benefits. Here, a dual-stimuli-responsive soft bimorph material with three configurations that enable complex programmable 3D shape-morphing is presented. The material consists of liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) and magnetic-responsive elastomers (MREs) via facile fabrication that orthogonally integrates their respective stimuli-responsiveness without detrimentally altering their properties. The material offers an unprecedented wide design space and abundant degree-of-freedoms (DoFs) due to the LCE's programmable director field, the MRE's programmable magnetization profile, and diverse geometric configurations. It responds to wireless stimuli of the controlled magnetic field and environmental temperature. Its dual-responsiveness allows the independent control of different DoFs for complex shape-morphing behaviors with anisotropic material properties. A diverse set of in situ reconfigurable shape-morphing and an environment-aware untethered miniature 12-legged robot capable of locomotion and self-gripping are demonstrated. Such material can provide solutions for the development of future soft robotic and other functional devices.

Research Area(s)

  • active soft materials, liquid crystal elastomers, magnetic-responsive elastomers, programmable shape-morphing, soft robotics

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