The National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) revealed on August 12 that a research team led by Professor Koh Seung-hwan at Seoul National University has developed a soft actuator which moves and changes its color like an actual body of an organism.
A soft actuator is a device made of soft material that can make a machine move using a source of power, such as electricity. Unlike conventional actuators such as an electric motor that are rigid, heavy, and limited in degrees of freedom, a soft actuator is normally made of soft material, and also can generate pre-designed motions.
The research team succeeded in developing a soft actuator that can freely move around and change its color. The team explained that the actuator uses a macromolecule film whose coefficient of thermal expansion changes as its physical direction changes. The actuator moves in the direction that the film takes. In addition, a temperature-sensitive dye has been applied, allowing prompt color changes with the movement. In other words, the development of a chameleon-like robot with a camouflage skill is in the near future.
The team has applied and tested the technology by developing a biomimetic flower robot, in which the colors are expressed as an actual flower blooms, and a butterfly robot, which can flap its wings and change its color. Professor Koh Seung-hwan said, “The important part is that we have used a nano-wire network-based anisotropy macromolecule film and a temperature-sensitive dye, adding, “It will be applied to various soft robots, like biomimetic robots, camouflage robots, and artificial muscles.”
This research paper was published in the cover page of Advanced Functional Materials on the 8th.