Multi-responsive actuators based on a graphene oxide composite: intelligent robot and bioinspired applications†
Carbon-based electrothermal or photothermal actuators have attracted intense attention recently. They can directly convert electrical or light energy into thermal energy and exhibit obvious deformations. However, if the actuation mechanism is only limited to thermal expansion, the deformation amplitude is difficult to increase further. Moreover, complex shape-deformation is still challenging. Although a few materials were reported to realize twisting or untwisting actuation by cutting the samples into strips along different orientations, each single strip could perform only one shape-deformation mode. In this work, we propose multi-responsive actuators based on a graphene oxide (GO) and biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) composite, which are designed with different shapes (strip-shape and helical-shape). The strip-shape GO/BOPP actuator shows great bending actuations when driven by humidity (curvature of up to 3.1 cm−1). Due to a developed dual-mode actuation mechanism, the actuator shows a bending curvature of 2.8 cm−1 when driven by near infrared (NIR) light. The great actuation outperforms most other carbon-based actuators. Then, an intelligent robot based on the GO/BOPP composite is fabricated, which can switch between the protection mode and weightlifting mode with different external stimuli. Inspired from plant tendrils, a bioinspired helical GO/BOPP actuator is further realized to show both twisting and untwisting actuations in a single actuator, fully mimicking the deformation of plant tendrils. Finally, a robot arm consisting of strip-shape and helical GO/BOPP actuators can grasp an object that is 2.9 times heavier than itself, demonstrating promising bioinspired applications.