The unique features of plants, animals, and insects offer inspiration for new and complex aesthetic and actuation capabilities in the field of soft robotics, including the ability to camouflage.
In a paper in Advanced Functional Materials, Dr. Jinhyeong Kwon and Prof. Seung Hwan Ko of Seoul National University and co-workers design a color-shifting anisotropic soft actuator (CASA) with biomimetic actuation capabilities.
Hyeonseok Kim: “Conventional thermally operating soft actuators have limitations since their functions depend on the entire geometry and require sophisticated design of the heater. However, using the anisotropic thermal expanding property of polymer, we could easily program the actuation by simply changing the direction of the polymer.”
CASAs with different aspect ratios could bend in the same direction with the same curvature upon heating, and returned to their initial shape when cooled. By changing the longitudinal direction of the LDPE films up to 90° relative to the longitudinal direction of the actuator, twisting, normal bending, and bending in the width direction occurs.
Hyeonseok Kim: “By applying thermoresponsive pigment on the aforementioned actuating polymer, we could successfully mimic the motion and coloration of animals, which may have high impact in the field of biomimetic soft actuators.”