Stimuli‐responsive hydrogels with programmable shapes produced by defined patterns of particles are of great interest for the fabrication of small‐scale soft actuators and robots. Patterning the particles in the hydrogels during fabrication generally requires external magnetic or electric fields, thus limiting the material choice for the particles. Acoustically driven particle manipulation, however, solely depends on the acoustic impedance difference between the particles and the surrounding fluid, making it a more versatile method to spatially control particles. Here, an approach is reported by combining direct acoustic force to align photothermal particles and photolithography to spatially immobilize these alignments within a temperature‐responsive poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide) hydrogel to trigger shape deformation under temperature change and light exposure. The spatial distribution of particles can be tuned by the power and frequency of the acoustic waves. Specifically, changing the spacing between the particle patterns and position alters the bending curvature and direction of this composite hydrogel sheet, respectively. Moreover, the orientation (i.e., relative angle) of the particle alignments with respect to the long axis of laser‐cut hydrogel strips governs the bending behaviors and the subsequent shape deformation by external stimuli. This acousto‐photolithography provides a means of spatiotemporal programming of the internal heterogeneity of composite polymeric systems.more » « less
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- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
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- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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A vision for soft, autonomous materials entails synthesis of multiple senses in multifunctional materials where material response requires sensitivity to external stimuli. Stimuli-responsive hydrogels are of particular interest for optically induced mechanical response due to the ability to transform external stimuli into large, reversible shape change. Specifically, temperature-responsive hydrogels are broadly used and can be designed to achieve deformation through the photothermal effect as a result of surface plasmonic resonance of gold nanoparticles. Here, a multi-material stimuli-responsive hydrogel network with embedded gold nanoparticles is demonstrated in a unit cell pattern with anisotropic swelling behavior in response to visible light. Reversible, anisotropic swelling leads to bending motion that contributes to the development of soft, autonomous materials.more » « less
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