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An instant multi-responsive porous polymer actuator driven by solvent molecule sorption

Nature Communications volume 5, Article number: 4293 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Fast actuation speed, large-shape deformation and robust responsiveness are critical to synthetic soft actuators. A simultaneous optimization of all these aspects without trade-offs remains unresolved. Here we describe porous polymer actuators that bend in response to acetone vapour (24 kPa, 20 °C) at a speed of an order of magnitude faster than the state-of-the-art, coupled with a large-scale locomotion. They are meanwhile multi-responsive towards a variety of organic vapours in both the dry and wet states, thus distinctive from the traditional gel actuation systems that become inactive when dried. The actuator is easy-to-make and survives even after hydrothermal processing (200 °C, 24 h) and pressing-pressure (100 MPa) treatments. In addition, the beneficial responsiveness is transferable, being able to turn ‘inert’ objects into actuators through surface coating. This advanced actuator arises from the unique combination of porous morphology, gradient structure and the interaction between solvent molecules and actuator materials.

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Acknowledgements

Authors thank the Max Planck Society for financial support. J.Y. thanks Simon Prescher for the polymer synthesis and Mr Matthias Kollosche for mechanical tests. J.D. and J.H. acknowledge the financial support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Colloid Chemistry, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, D-14424 Potsdam, Germany

    • Qiang Zhao
    • , Markus Antonietti
    •  & Jiayin Yuan
  2. Department of Biomaterials, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, D-14424 Potsdam, Germany

    • John W. C. Dunlop
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Potsdam, 14476 Potsdam, Germany

    • Xunlin Qiu
  4. State Key Laboratory of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemistry, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China

    • Feihe Huang
    •  & Zibin Zhang
  5. Soft Matter and Functional Materials, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, Hahn-Meitner Platz 1, 14109 Berlin, Germany

    • Jan Heyda
    •  & Joachim Dzubiella

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Contributions

Q.Z., J.Y. and M.A. conceived the research. Q.Z. and X.Q. performed the hygroscopic actuation experiments. Z.Z. and F.H. synthesized the pillar[5]arene molecules. J.D. and J.H. performed the simulations and analysis. Q.Z. carried out all the rest experiments. Q.Z., J.Y. J.W.C.D. and M.A. analysed the data and wrote the paper. All authors read and revised the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jiayin Yuan.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Figures, Supplementary Tables, Supplementary Notes and References.

    Supplementary Figures 1-24, Supplementary Tables 1-2, Supplementary Notes 1-4 and Supplementary References

Videos

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Movie 1

    Adaptive movement of a PILTf2N/C-pillar[5]arene membrane (1 mm × 20 mm × 30 μm) when placed in acetone vapor (24 kPa, 20 °C, the acetone was stained blue) and pull back in air.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Movie 2

    Adaptive movement of a human hair in acetone vapor gradient. The hair was coated with PILTf2N/C-pillar[5]arene membrane. In the movie, both the membrane coated hair (on the right side in the movie) and the bair hair (on the left) were tested in the same time. Please note, one end in both hairs is fixed on the tissue paper; the dynamic acetone vapor was delivered to the hairs by mechanical agitation of the liquid acetone beneath the tissue paper. The pores in the tissue paper allows for the transport of the actone vapor.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Movie 3

    Adaptive movement of a PILTf2N/C-pillar[5]arene membrane (1 mm × 20 mm × 30 μm) when placed in perfume vapor (20 °C, COCO MADEMOISELLE, CHANEL) and back in air.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms5293

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