The “ionoprinting” technique, as the team has dubbed it, uses a copper electrode to inject positively-charged copper ions into a hydrogel material (a highly absorbent polymer material that is nearly 99.9 percent water). The copper ions bond with negatively charged ions n the hydrogel’s polymer network, creating a more robust and mechanically stiffer structure.
Applying an electrical current then causes the hydrogel to flex. Although electrical fields have been used to actuate hydrogel materials before, this is the first time that electromechanically active electrodes have been used to drive the motion. Also, this is the first time that the binding of ions has been used to create a more rigid hydrogel network in this way.
Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.