Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Fast-moving soft electronic fish

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Science Advances  05 Apr 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 4, e1602045
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602045

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Abstract

Soft robots driven by stimuli-responsive materials have unique advantages over conventional rigid robots, especially in their high adaptability for field exploration and seamless interaction with humans. The grand challenge lies in achieving self-powered soft robots with high mobility, environmental tolerance, and long endurance. We are able to advance a soft electronic fish with a fully integrated onboard system for power and remote control. Without any motor, the fish is driven solely by a soft electroactive structure made of dielectric elastomer and ionically conductive hydrogel. The electronic fish can swim at a speed of 6.4 cm/s (0.69 body length per second), which is much faster than previously reported untethered soft robotic fish driven by soft responsive materials. The fish shows consistent performance in a wide temperature range and permits stealth sailing due to its nearly transparent nature. Furthermore, the fish is robust, as it uses the surrounding water as the electric ground and can operate for 3 hours with one single charge. The design principle can be potentially extended to a variety of flexible devices and soft robots.

Keywords
  • soft robot
  • dielectric elastomer
  • hydrogel
  • aquatic robot

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