3-D Printing

Electric fields get hydrogel robots to work (and dance)

Soft robotic structures walk forward, pick up objects, and even dance in response to electric fields

by Kerri Jansen
June 5, 2018

Daehoon Han/ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces/C&EN

Researchers have demonstrated that they can use electric fields to steer tiny hydrogel robots created by three-dimensional printing (ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b04250). In solution, these hydrogels swell and contract when the applied electric field changes the concentration of ions surrounding the materials. By precisely controlling the dimensions of the hydrogel structures, researchers could control how the robots move and change shape in response to the electrical stimulation. Robots printed by a team from Rutgers University and Korea University led by Howon Lee could walk and pick up objects. Someday, more sophisticated hydrogel structures could serve as artificial muscles, stimulated by electrical impulses in the human body, the researchers say.


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Kosaku Uyeda (Thu Jun 07 09:45:29 EDT 2018)

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