Jump to main content
Jump to site search
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Close the message box

Scheduled maintenance work on Wednesday 27th March 2019 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT).

During this time our website performance may be temporarily affected. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause and thank you for your patience.

Issue 1, 2019
Previous Article Next Article

Soft stimuli-responsive grippers and machines with high load-to-weight ratios

Author affiliations


Soft untethered grippers and machines are emerging fields of research due to their wide range of desirable properties and capabilities over traditional hard robots. Stimuli-responsive hydrogels are naturally soft and untethered (i.e., they respond to a signal from the environment); however, they are not used as grippers due to the weak mechanical properties of the hydrogels. This manuscript describes the fabrication of a general class of stimuli-responsive grippers that are soft and untethered. Each gripper is composed of a stimuli-responsive hydrogel with a hole in the middle for gripping onto objects and a layer of coating around its sides. Importantly, these grippers exert surprisingly large gripping forces relative to their weights—∼10 000, which is the highest reported in the literature for a gripper. This high load-to-weight ratio is unexpected because the stimuli-responsive hydrogel is soft, not tethered to any external supply of energy, and fabricated by simple methods. The approach is general: high load-to-weight ratios were achieved for both pH- and temperature-responsive hydrogels. As soft grippers, they gripped onto objects of different shapes and sizes easily. A class of soft untethered machines can be fabricated by assembling these soft grippers with different modular blocks of stimuli-responsive hydrogels for performing complex operations.

Graphical abstract: Soft stimuli-responsive grippers and machines with high load-to-weight ratios

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 27 Jul 2018, accepted on 15 Oct 2018 and first published on 15 Oct 2018

Article type: Communication
DOI: 10.1039/C8MH00888D
Citation: Mater. Horiz., 2019,6, 160-168

  •   Request permissions

    Soft stimuli-responsive grippers and machines with high load-to-weight ratios

    Y. Sun, L. Chen, Y. Jiang, X. Zhang, X. Yao and S. Soh, Mater. Horiz., 2019, 6, 160
    DOI: 10.1039/C8MH00888D

Search articles by author