Research ArticleSOFT ROBOTS

Hygrobot: A self-locomotive ratcheted actuator powered by environmental humidity

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Robotics  24 Jan 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 14, eaar2629
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aar2629
  • Fig. 1 Hygroscopically responsive bilayer structures.

    (A) Optical image of a seed of P. carnosum and the SEM image of the cross-section of its awn. (B) Time for saturation of deflection angle versus thickness of active layers fabricated via spin-coating (red circles), random electrospinning (yellow circles), and directional electrospinning (blue circles). The thickness of the inactive layer is 55 μm for all the cases. The trend lines for all the types of active layer follow ts ~ h2, implying the diffusive transport of moisture in the layers. Inset: Temporal evolution of the deflection angle at the free end of the bilayers, 25 mm in length, whose active layers are fabricated by spin-coating (red circles), random electrospinning (yellow circles), and directional electrospinning (blue circles). The active layer thickness is 35 μm. (C) Coordinate system for the bilayer. (D) Temporal evolution of the bilayer curvature when the environmental humidity abruptly increases to 0.8 from 0.2 at t = 0. Circles and lines correspond to experiment and theory, respectively. Error bars represent SD.

  • Fig. 2 Ratcheted locomotion of hygrobots.

    (A) Ratcheting of two legs attached to a bilayer actuator. The difference in the static friction coefficients of the end tip and knee of the legs rectifies the motion. (B) Artificially controlled temporal variation of the environmental humidity. (C) Advance of the hygrobot for a single period of humidity variation. The corresponding movie is shown in movie S1.

  • Fig. 3 Velocity of hygrobots.

    (A) The difference between l and lp corresponds to a distance that a hygrobot advances a period. (B) Velocity of hygrobots as a function of the period of humidity variation. Circles correspond to the experimentally measured velocity. Blue and red lines are theoretically calculated velocity and maximum change of curvature, respectively. (C) Velocity of hygrobots as a function of the active layer thickness. Circles and lines correspond to experiment and theory, respectively. (D) Contour map of the hygrobot velocity as a function of active layer thickness and period. (E) Velocity of various animals and robots measured in body length (BL) per second versus body mass. For data, see tables S1 to S3. (F) Hygroscopic actuation systems of different designs from Fig. 2C, which can also propel themselves under temporal variation of environmental humidity. The corresponding movie and details are in movie S2 and section S2.

  • Fig. 4 Spontaneous locomotion of hygrobots under spatial gradient of humidity.

    (A) Spatial distribution of relative humidity at 23°C near a moist filter paper. Error bars indicate SD. (B) Schematics and experimental images of a hygrobot crawling spontaneously on a moist surface. The angle that the leg makes with the substrate, β, determines the friction coefficient (section S3). (C) Temporal evolution of the position of the hygrobot. Velocity of hygrobots powered by the spatial gradient of humidity as a function of (D) the active layer thickness and (E) the actuator length. Circles and lines correspond to the results of experiment and theory, respectively. Inset of (E) shows the overlapped images of hygrobots of different lengths.

  • Fig. 5 Power-free sterilization of culture plate.

    (A) Overlapped images of the hygrobot, with its legs coated with antibiotics, crawling on the agar plate as powered by spatial humidity gradient. (B) Horizontal trail of the antibiotics applied by the hygrobot. (C) Sterilized region after 24-hour incubation coincides with the hygrobot trail.

  • Fig. 6 Fabrication of bilayer actuator composed of a hygroscopically active layer with aligned nanofibers and an inactive layer.

    (A) Experimental apparatus to directionally electrospin nanofibers of polymer solution. (B) Formation of bilayer structure by detaching the active layer from the collector drum with the adhesive inactive layer. (C) Schematic of the bending deformation of the bilayer and SEM images. Left: Top view of the active layer. Right: Cross-section of the bilayer.

Supplementary Materials

  • robotics.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/3/14/eaar2629/DC1

    Section S1. Experimental details of the electrospinning process

    Section S2. Various designs of hygrobot

    Section S3. Asymmetric friction coefficients of the ratchets

    Section S4. Ratchet design to harness spatial gradient of humidity

    Section S5. Data of locomotion speed and mass of animals and robots

    Fig. S1. Static friction coefficients of ratchets.

    Table S1. Locomotion speed and mass data of mammals.

    Table S2. Locomotion speed and mass data of non-mammals.

    Table S3. Locomotion speed and mass data of walking robots.

    Movie S1. Locomotion of a hygrobot under temporal variation of environmental humidity.

    Movie S2. Locomotion of various designs of hygrobot.

    References (3677)

  • Supplementary Materials

    Supplementary Material for:

    Hygrobot: A self-locomotive ratcheted actuator powered by environmental humidity

    Beomjune Shin, Jonghyun Ha, Minhee Lee, Keunhwan Park, Gee Ho Park, Tae Hyun Choi, Kyu-Jin Cho, Ho-Young Kim*

    *Corresponding author. Email: hyk{at}snu.ac.kr

    Published 24 January 2018, Sci. Robot. 3, eaar2629 (2018)
    DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aar2629

    This PDF file includes:

    • Section S1. Experimental details of the electrospinning process
    • Section S2. Various designs of hygrobot
    • Section S3. Asymmetric friction coefficients of the ratchets
    • Section S4. Ratchet design to harness spatial gradient of humidity
    • Section S5. Data of locomotion speed and mass of animals and robots
    • Fig. S1. Static friction coefficients of ratchets.
    • Table S1. Locomotion speed and mass data of mammals.
    • Table S2. Locomotion speed and mass data of non-mammals.
    • Table S3. Locomotion speed and mass data of walking robots.
    • References (3677)

    Download PDF

    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

    • Movie S1 (.mov format). Locomotion of a hygrobot under temporal variation of environmental humidity.
    • Movie S2 (.mov format). Locomotion of various designs of hygrobot.

    Files in this Data Supplement:

Navigate This Article