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Rapid Recovery Hydrogel Actuators in Air with Bionic Large-Ranged Gradient Structure
- Tan, Yun, Wang, Di, Xu, Huaxiu, Yang, Yang, Wang, Xiong-Lei, Tian, Fei, Xu, Pingping, An, Wenli, Zhao, Xu, Xu, Shimei
- ACS applied materials & interfaces 2018 v.10 no.46 pp. 40125-40131
- actuators, air, copolymerization, deformation, electrophoresis, hydrogels, hydrophilicity, laponite, microfluidic technology, muscles, robots, temperature
- Fast recovery in a nonaqueous environment is a big challenge for hydrogel actuators. In this work, a temperature-responsive hydrogel actuator with outstandingly rapid recovery in air was reported. The hydrogel with bionic large-ranged gradient structure was fabricated by copolymerization of hydrophilic monomer hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA) and N-isopropylacrylamide in the dispersion of Laponite utilizing a facile electrophoretic method. The deformation degree and time can be regulated by varying the concentration of HEA to change the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) and swelling of the hydrogel. A dynamic equilibrium between the water into and out of the hydrogel was observed, and the hydrogel showed no shrink above LCST. The synthesized hydrogels showed fast response in hot water and rapid recovery in air. Such nonshrink characteristics and excellent reversibility made it possible for these hydrogels to be used as temperature-controlled microfluidic switches. This work provided an approach to design fast recovery hydrogel actuators by the incorporation of hydrophilic monomers and extend the application of the hydrogel actuators into fields such as soft robots, micromanipulation, microfluidics and artificial muscles in various environments.