In-air Fast Response and High Speed Jumping and Rolling of a Light-driven Hydrogel Actuator
Mingtong Li,1,2,# Xin Wang,1,# Bin Dong1,* & Metin Sitti2,*
1Institute of Functional Nano & Soft Materials (FUNSOM), Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Carbon-Based Functional Materials & Devices, Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, Jiangsu, P. R. China.
2Physical Intelligence Department, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany.
Stimuli-responsive hydrogel actuators have promising applications in various fields. However, the typical hydrogel actuation relies on the swelling and de-swelling process caused by osmotic-pressure changes, which is slow and normally requires the presence of water environment. Herein, we report a light-powered in-air hydrogel actuator with remarkable performances, including ultrafast motion speed (up to 1.6 m/s), rapid response (as fast as 800 ms) and high jumping height (~15 cm). The hydrogel is operated based on a fundamentally different mechanism that harnesses the synergetic interactions between the binary constituent parts, i.e. the elasticity of the poly(sodium acrylate) hydrogel, and the bubble caused by the photohermal effect of the embedded magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. The current hydrogel actuator exhibits controlled motion velocity and direction, making it promising for a wide range of mobile robotics, soft robotics, sensors, controlled drug delivery and other miniature device applications.