A Soft Biomimetic Actuator Inspired by the Self-Sealing Motion of Succulent Plants

This collaborative project between botanists and engineers is a livMatS booster project in Area C (Longevity) and Demonstrators. Inspired by the self-sealing deformation of the succulent leaves of Delosperma cooperi, we aim to develop a biomimetic bending actuator with self-sealing function after damage for soft robots.

In this study, we focus on the functional principle of the mechanically driven leaf movement after an injury, which we transfer to shape memory polymer (SMP) based multilayer systems. By utilizing the shape memory effect of the SMP thin films, process-induced stress would be easily built up into the polymer based soft multilayer systems. This flexible multilayer structure, which is a fully soft polymer mechanism, will work as a bending actuator based on the minimum energy mechanism. Similar to the plant leaf, multi-layer SMP/elastomer materials system can bend after an external damage. The plant-inspired motion can serve as an actuator or controller of a technical mechanism or system, or alternatively, the deformation can bring damage-related areas close together that a subsequent chemical reaction completely heals the crack. In order to meet the functional requirements of the whole bioinspired material systems in a technical application, we aim to find a simple method to produce the various polymeric single and multilayers and to adjust the structures and properties of the layers.

Prof. Dr. Claas Müller

Principal Investigators
Dr. Olga Speck
Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck

Prof. Dr. Jing Becker
Timo Göppert