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Creators/Authors contains: "Yin, Jie"

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  1. Abstract

    Achieving multicapability in a single soft gripper for handling ultrasoft, ultrathin, and ultraheavy objects is challenging due to the tradeoff between compliance, strength, and precision. Here, combining experiments, theory, and simulation, we report utilizing angle-programmed tendril-like grasping trajectories for an ultragentle yet ultrastrong and ultraprecise gripper. The single gripper can delicately grasp fragile liquids with minimal contact pressure (0.05 kPa), lift objects 16,000 times its own weight, and precisely grasp ultrathin, flexible objects like 4-μm-thick sheets and 2-μm-diameter microfibers on flat surfaces, all with a high success rate. Its scalable and material-independent design allows for biodegradable noninvasive grippers made from natural leaves. Explicitly controlled trajectories facilitate its integration with robotic arms and prostheses for challenging tasks, including picking grapes, opening zippers, folding clothes, and turning pages. This work showcases soft grippers excelling in extreme scenarios with potential applications in agriculture, food processing, prosthesis, biomedicine, minimally invasive surgeries, and deep-sea exploration.

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  2. Distributed programmable thermal actuation enables caterpillar-inspired bidirectional locomotion for soft crawling robots. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 22, 2024
  3. Bistable soft swimmers can achieve both high-speed and high-efficient performances comparable to their biological counterparts. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 16, 2023
  4. Soft robots that can harvest energy from environmental resources for autonomous locomotion is highly desired; however, few are capable of adaptive navigation without human interventions. Here, we report twisting soft robots with embodied physical intelligence for adaptive, intelligent autonomous locomotion in various unstructured environments, without on-board or external controls and human interventions. The soft robots are constructed of twisted thermal-responsive liquid crystal elastomer ribbons with a straight centerline. They can harvest thermal energy from environments to roll on outdoor hard surfaces and challenging granular substrates without slip, including ascending loose sandy slopes, crossing sand ripples, escaping from burying sand, and crossing rocks with additional camouflaging features. The twisting body provides anchoring functionality by burrowing into loose sand. When encountering obstacles, they can either self-turn or self-snap for obstacle negotiation and avoidance. Theoretical models and finite element simulation reveal that such physical intelligence is achieved by spontaneously snapping-through its soft body upon active and adaptive soft body-obstacle interactions. Utilizing this strategy, they can intelligently escape from confined spaces and maze-like obstacle courses without any human intervention. This work presents a de novo design of embodied physical intelligence by harnessing the twisting geometry and snap-through instability for adaptive soft robot-environment interactions. 
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  5. Soft robotics enriches the robotic functionalities by engineering soft materials and electronics toward enhanced compliance, adaptivity, and friendly human machine. This decade has witnessed extraordinary progresses and benefits in scaling down soft robotics to small scale for a wide range of potential and promising applications, including medical and surgical soft robots, wearable and rehabilitation robots, and unconstructed environments exploration. This perspective highlights recent research efforts in miniature soft robotics in a brief and comprehensive way in terms of actuation, powering, designs, fabrication, control, and applications in four sections. Section 2 discusses the key aspects of materials selection and structural designs for small‐scale tethered and untethered actuation and powering, including fluidic actuation, stimuli‐responsive actuation, and soft living biohybrid materials, as well as structural forms from 1D to 3D. Section 3 discusses the advanced manufacturing techniques at small scales for fabricating miniature soft robots, including lithography, mechanical self‐assembly, additive manufacturing, tissue engineering, and other fabrication methods. Section 4 discusses the control systems used in miniature robots, including off‐board/onboard controls and artificial intelligence‐based controls. Section 5 discusses their potential broad applications in healthcare, small‐scale objects manipulating and processing, and environmental monitoring. Finally, outlooks on the challenges and opportunities are discussed.

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  6. Abstract

    Kirigami, a traditional paper cutting art, offers a promising strategy for 2D-to-3D shape morphing through cut-guided deformation. Existing kirigami designs for target 3D curved shapes rely on intricate cut patterns in thin sheets, making the inverse design challenging. Motivated by the Gauss-Bonnet theorem that correlates the geodesic curvature along the boundary with the Gaussian curvature, here, we exploit programming the curvature of cut boundaries rather than the complex cut patterns in kirigami sheets for target 3D curved morphologies through both forward and inverse designs. The strategy largely simplifies the inverse design. Leveraging this strategy, we demonstrate its potential applications as a universal and nondestructive gripper for delicate objects, including live fish, raw egg yolk, and a human hair, as well as dynamically conformable heaters for human knees. This study opens a new avenue to encode boundary curvatures for shape-programing materials with potential applications in soft robotics and wearable devices.

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