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Creators/Authors contains: "Pan, Wenlong"

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  1. Abstract

    Soft, worm-like robots show promise in complex and constrained environments due to their robust, yet simple movement patterns. Although many such robots have been developed, they either rely on tethered power supplies and complex designs or cannot move external loads. To address these issues, we here introduce a novel, maggot-inspired, magnetically driven “mag-bot” that utilizes shape memory alloy-induced, thermoresponsive actuation and surface pattern-induced anisotropic friction to achieve locomotion inspired by fly larvae. This simple, untethered design can carry cargo that weighs up to three times its own weight with only a 17% reduction in speed over unloaded conditions thereby demonstrating, for the first time, how soft, untethered robots may be used to carry loads in controlled environments. Given their small scale and low cost, we expect that these mag-bots may be used in remote, confined spaces for small objects handling or as components in more complex designs.

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  2. Abstract

    Hydrogels containing thermosensitive polymers such as poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide) (P(NIPAm)) may contract during heating and show great promise in fields ranging from soft robotics to thermosensitive biosensors. However, these gels often exhibit low stiffness, tensile strength, and mechanical toughness, limiting their applicability. Through copolymerization of P(NIPAm) with poly(Acrylic acid) (P(AAc)) and introduction of ferric ions (Fe3+) that coordinate with functional groups along the P(AAc) chains, here a thermoresponsive hydrogel with enhanced mechanical extensibility, strength, and toughness is introduced. Using both experimentation and constitutive modeling, it is found that increasing the ratio of m(AAc):m(NIPAm) in the prepolymer decreases strength and toughness but improves extensibility. In contrast, increasing Fe3+concentration generally improves strength and toughness with little decrease in extensibility. Due to reversible coordination of the Fe3+bonds, these gels display excellent recovery of mechanical strength during cyclic loading and self‐healing ability. While thermosensitive contraction imbued by the underlying P(NIPAm) decreases slightly with increased Fe3+concentration, the temperature transition range is widened and shifted upward toward that of human body temperature (between 30 and 40 °C), perhaps rendering these gels suitable as in vivo biosensors. Finally, these gels display excellent adsorptive properties with a variety of materials, rendering them possible candidates in adhesive applications.

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