Owing to their adaptive interfacial properties, soft actuators can be used to perform more delicate tasks than their rigid counterparts. However, traditional polymeric soft actuators rely on energy conversion for actuation, resulting in high power input or slow responses. Here we report an electrical plant-based actuator that uses a conformable electrical interface as an electrical modulating unit and a Venus flytrap as an actuating unit. Using frequency-dependent action-potential modulation, accurate on-demand actuation is possible, with response times that can be tuned to 1.3 s and a power input of only 10−5 W. The actuator can be wirelessly controlled using a smartphone. It can also be installed on a range of platforms (including a finger and a robotic hand) and can be used to grasp thin wires and capture moving objects.
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The data that support the plots in this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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We acknowledge financial support from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, under its NRF Investigatorship (NRF-NRFI2017-07) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) under its AME Programmatic Funds (project no. A18A1b0045) on Cyber-Physiochemical Interfaces (CPI) Programme. N.M. was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) overseas research fellowship. Finally, we thank A. L. Chun for critically reading and editing the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Electronics thanks Ingrid Graz, Alexander Volkov and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Li, W., Matsuhisa, N., Liu, Z. et al. An on-demand plant-based actuator created using conformable electrodes. Nat Electron 4, 134–142 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-020-00530-4
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