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Light-Driven, Caterpillar-Inspired Miniature Inching Robot

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1700224
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Liquid crystal elastomers are among the best candidates for artificial muscles, and the materials of choice when constructing microscale robotic systems. Recently, significant efforts are dedicated to designing stimuli-responsive actuators that can reproduce the shape-change of soft bodies of animals by means of proper external energy source. However, transferring material deformation efficiently into autonomous robotic locomotion remains a challenge. This paper reports on a miniature inching robot fabricated from a monolithic liquid crystal elastomer film, which upon visible-light excitation is capable of mimicking caterpillar locomotion on different substrates like a blazed grating and a paper surface. The motion is driven by spatially uniform visible light with relatively low intensity, rendering the robot "human-friendly," i.e., operational also on human skin. The design paves the way toward light-driven, soft, mobile microdevices capable of operating in various environments, including the close proximity of humans.


  • Journal Article

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland