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Gradient porous PNIPAM-based hydrogel actuators with rapid response and flexibly controllable deformation

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Abstract

Smart hydrogels play a vital role in fundamental research and industrial applications in the fields of biosensors, flexible devices and intelligent human–machine technologies; however, developing a simple, low-cost and large-scale method to obtain hydrogel actuators with rapid response and robust and steadily controllable motion remains a big challenge. In this work, a temperature-responsive, gradient structured hydrogel with quick bending and adjustable actuation was fabricated by the copolymerization of the N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM) monomer with dispersed montmorillonite (MMT) via a facile precipitation method. The introduction of MMT with good thermal conductivity made the volume phase transition of the PNIPAM-based hydrogel occur earlier, and the deformation degree and bending direction could be adjusted by changing the MMT content. The representative composite hydrogel with 0.2 g MMT in the precursor presented bidirectional bending characteristics with a bending amplitude of about 289° and an average bending speed of about 36.0° s−1, while the composite hydrogel with 0.3 g MMT in the precursor only possessed a unidirectional bending ability with a bending amplitude of about −259° and a bending velocity of about −28.8° s−1 due to the great difference in the shrinking capacity between the top and bottom sides of the composite hydrogel. In addition, flexibly controllable deformation was specially realized by a well-designed patterned hydrogel with a local component and a thickness difference. Our work provides a practical method for the ingenious design of a hydrogel for further development of programmable and versatile hydrogel-based smart actuators and soft robots.

Graphical abstract: Gradient porous PNIPAM-based hydrogel actuators with rapid response and flexibly controllable deformation

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
09 Jan 2020
Accepted
01 Jun 2020
First published
01 Jun 2020

J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Gradient porous PNIPAM-based hydrogel actuators with rapid response and flexibly controllable deformation

J. Liu, W. Xu, Z. Kuang, P. Dong, Y. Yao, H. Wu, A. Liu and F. Ye, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0TC00139B

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