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Photoresponsive Graphene Composite Bilayer Actuator for Soft Robots

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posted on 2019-08-12, 21:03 authored by Xiaodong Wang, Niandong Jiao, Steve Tung, Lianqing Liu
Highly deformable and photoresponsive smart actuators are attracting increasing attention. Here, a high concentration of graphene is dispersed in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) by combining the advantages of various dispersion methods. The composite and pure PDMS layers are used to fabricate bilayer actuators with a high capacity for rapid deformation. The fabricated bilayer actuators exhibit novel and interesting properties. A bilayer actuator containing a 30 wt % graphene composite can be deflected by 7.9 mm in the horizontal direction under infrared laser irradiation. The graphene concentration in the composite influences actuator adjustment to deformation and its response speed, and the composite also exhibits superhydrophobicity. On the basis of its superhydrophobicity and large deformation capacity, the actuator made with 30 wt % graphene composite is used to construct a beluga whale soft robot. The robot can swim quickly in water at an average speed of 6 mm/s, and it can cover a distance of 30 mm in 5 s when irradiated just once with an infrared laser. Actuators fabricated with this method can be used in artificial muscle, bionic grippers, and various soft robots that require actuators with large deformation capacities.