Humidity- and light-driven actuators based on carbon nanotube-coated paper and polymer composite†
Multi-responsive actuators driven by different stimuli (e.g. light, humidity, electricity) have attracted intense attention recently for the advantages of being used in various environments and show enormous actuation. In this work, we propose humidity- and light-driven actuators based on carbon nanotube (CNT)-coated paper and a biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) composite. The CNT–paper/BOPP actuator shows large bending actuation when driven by humidity change (curvature of 1.2 cm−1) and near infrared (NIR) light irradiation (curvature up to 1.6 cm−1). The great actuation performances outperform most other paper-based actuators. Finally, a smart gripper, of which the initial opening width can be enlarged, is fabricated on the basis of the CNT–paper/BOPP actuators. By utilizing the bidirectional bending motion of the actuator, the opening width of the gripper can increase to a width that is 4 times larger than its initial width, so as to grasp a large object. The gripper is also able to raise and move an object that is 20 times heavier than one actuator of the gripper. We assume that this new type of actuator has great potential in artificial muscle, soft robotics and biomimetic applications.