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Tunable Light-Responsive Polyurethane-urea Elastomer Driven by Photochemical and Photothermal Coupling Mechanism

Wu, Lei; Huang, Xia; Wang, Meng; Chen, Jishizhan; Chang, Jinke; Zhang, Han; Zhang, Xuetong; ... Song, Wenhui; + view all (2024) Tunable Light-Responsive Polyurethane-urea Elastomer Driven by Photochemical and Photothermal Coupling Mechanism. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 10.1021/acsami.4c00486. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Light-driven soft actuators based on photoresponsive materials can be used to mimic biological motion, such as hand movements, without involving rigid or bulky electromechanical actuations. However, to our knowledge, no robust photoresponsive material with desireable mechanical and biological properties and relatively simple manufacture exists for robotics and biomedical applications. Herein, we report a new visible-light-responsive thermoplastic elastomer synthesized by introducing photoswitchable moieties (i.e., azobenzene derivatives) into the main chain of poly(ε-caprolactone) based polyurethane urea (PAzo). A PAzo elastomer exhibits controllable light-driven stiffness softening due to its unique nanophase structure in response to light, while possessing excellent hyperelasticity (stretchability of 575.2%, elastic modulus of 17.6 MPa, and strength of 44.0 MPa). A bilayer actuator consisting of PAzo and polyimide films is developed, demonstrating tunable bending modes by varying incident light intensities. Actuation mechanism via photothermal and photochemical coupling effects of a soft–hard nanophase is demonstrated through both experimental and theoretical analyses. We demonstrate an exemplar application of visible-light-controlled soft “fingers” playing a piano on a smartphone. The robustness of the PAzo elastomer and its scalability, in addition to its excellent biocompatibility, opens the door to the development of reproducible light-driven wearable/implantable actuators and lightweight soft robots for clinical applications.

Type: Article
Title: Tunable Light-Responsive Polyurethane-urea Elastomer Driven by Photochemical and Photothermal Coupling Mechanism
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.4c00486
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.4c00486
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Photoresponsive elastomer, photochemical stiffness softening, photothermal stiffness softening, nanophase separation, light-driven soft robotics, untethered bionic fingers, polyurethane elastomer actuator
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Mechanical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Surgical Biotechnology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10190427
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