Designing strong, fast, high-performance hydrogel actuators

Publication Name

Chemical communications (Cambridge, England)


Hydrogel actuators displaying programmable shape transformations are particularly attractive for integration into future soft robotics with safe human-machine interactions. However, these materials are still in their infancy, and many significant challenges remain presenting impediments to their practical implementation, including poor mechanical properties, slow actuation speed and limited actuation performance. In this review, we discuss the recent advances in hydrogel designs to address these critical limitations. First, the material design concepts to improve mechanical properties of hydrogel actuators will be introduced. Examples are also included to highlight strategies to realize fast actuation speed. In addition, recent progress about creating strong and fast hydrogel actuators are sumarized. Finally, a discussion of different methods to realize high values in several aspects of actuation performance metrics for this class of materials is provided. The advances and challenges discussed in this highlight could provide useful guidelines for rational design to manipulate the properties of hydrogel actuators toward widespread real-world applications.

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