Biomimetic Janus photonic soft actuator with structural color self-reporting†
Soft actuators with variable signal/color play an important role in the fields of targeted locomotion, artificial phototropism, drug screening, cargo transportation, and interactive sensing. The ability to achieve rapid response, large curvature, wide bending angle, and full-color display continues to be an unresolved challenge for artificial actuating materials. Inspired by the angle-dependent structural color of broad-tailed hummingbird and the Janus wettability of the lotus leaf, a Janus photonic soft actuator (JPSA) was fabricated by integrating an underwater super-oleophilic copper micro-nano array and oil-phobic inverse opal through a Laplace channel. The JPSA exhibits unidirectional permeability to underwater oil droplets. Attractively, with the combination of a swellable super-oleophilic surface and photonic crystals, JPSAs were endowed with oil-controlled reversible bending behavior with self-reporting angle-dependent color indication. We described for the first time the directional actuating mechanism induced by underwater oil unidirectional penetration and revealed the corresponding actuating kinetics and the inner-stress distribution/transfer by using structural color. As an extension of such theory, a rapid responsive JPSA with a wide bending angle and full-color self-reporting is further fabricated. This work provides an efficient strategy for oil directional transportation and separation in aqueous media and inspires the fabrication of a soft actuator/sensor with structural color self-reporting.