Reprogrammable shape morphing of magnetic soft machines

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Science Advances  18 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 38, eabc6414
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc6414


Shape-morphing magnetic soft machines are highly desirable for diverse applications in minimally invasive medicine, wearable devices, and soft robotics. Despite recent progress, current magnetic programming approaches are inherently coupled to sequential fabrication processes, preventing reprogrammability and high-throughput programming. Here, we report a high-throughput magnetic programming strategy based on heating magnetic soft materials above the Curie temperature of the embedded ferromagnetic particles and reorienting their magnetic domains by applying magnetic fields during cooling. We demonstrate discrete, three-dimensional, and reprogrammable magnetization with high spatial resolution (~38 μm). Using the reprogrammable magnetization capability, reconfigurable mechanical behavior of an auxetic metamaterial structure, tunable locomotion of a surface-walking soft robot, and adaptive grasping of a soft gripper are shown. Our approach further enables high-throughput magnetic programming (up to 10 samples/min) via contact transfer. Heat-assisted magnetic programming strategy described here establishes a rich design space and mass-manufacturing capability for development of multiscale and reprogrammable soft machines.

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