Bioinspired, 3D Printed, Stimulus-responsive Hydrogels for Soft Robotics

Projektverantwortlicher: Dr. Fatih Puza

Many natural soft tissues can be actuated, i.e. controlled motion can be generated in response to a stimulus. This is a continuous source of inspiration for soft robotics. The aim of this project is to mimic soft tissue actuation with synthetic polymer hydrogels. Hydrogels and soft tissues have many common properties, e.g. a similar range of elastic moduli, and a high water content. Hydrogels with responsive components are thus ideal model systems for the design of synthetic actuators. Our current project focuses on developing 3D printable inks that contain the desired hydrogel components, and additionally have shear-thinning and thixotropic properties (see Figure; Rheological properties of inks for 3D printinable hydrogels with and without rheology modifiers. a) Plot of viscosity vs. dynamic shear rate, demonstrating shear tinning of the modified ink; b) Plot of shear stress vs. dynamic shear rate, indicating thixotropy). From these inks, polymer hydrogels will be obtained by cross-linking. In the next step, a demonstrator featuring stimulus-responsive actuation will be constructed.