Copper ions injected into the hydrogel allow the degree of gel curvature to be dynamically controlled by an electrical current
The copper ions create a polymer network that strengthens the hydrogel material
Features are replicated with high definition on the hydrogel material
The ionic crosslinks bind the imprints at the joints and provide a rigid frame controlling the structure during shrinking and swelling
The hydrogel "grabber" can grasp and release objects thanks to the polymer network (Photo: Orlin Velev)
Soft robotics is a quickly emerging field that takes a lot of inspiration from marine creatures like squids and starfish. A light-controlled hydrogel was recently developed that could be used for control of these new robotic devices, but now researchers at North Carolina State University are taking the development of soft robotic devices to a new level with electrically-charged hydrogels.
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