Tunable, Fast, Robust Hydrogel Actuators Based on Evaporation-Programmed Heterogeneous Structures

Jianfeng Wang*, Jinrong Wang, Zhuo Chen, Shaoli Fang, Ying Zhu, Ray H. Baughman, Lei Jiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The ability to topographically structure and fast controllably actuate hydrogel in two and three dimensions is the key for their promising applications in soft robots, microfluidic valves, cell and drug delivery, and artificial muscles. Inspired by evaporation-induced concentration differentiation phenomenon in the production process of beancurd sheet, we introduce a facile one-step evaporation process to create laminated layer/porous layer heterogeneous structure within graphene oxide-clay-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) hydrogel in vertical direction and pattern the heterogeneous structure in lateral direction to form tunable, fast, and robust hydrogel actuators. The laminated layer/porous layer architecture is highly stable and robust without possibility of delamination. The evaporation-programmed heterogeneous structures tune thermoresponsive actuations from global bending/unbending for global heterogeneous structure to local bending/unbending and site-specific folding/unfolding for segment-patterned heterogeneous structure, then to directional bending/unbending and chiral twisting/untwisting for stripe-patterned heterogeneous structure. These actuations are instant and reversible without detectable fatigue after many cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9793-9801
Number of pages9
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 28 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51403008, 51273008, 51473008), the National Basic Research Program (2012CB933200), 111 Project (B14009), and China Scholarship Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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