Advanced Optical Materials, 2019, vol 7, 21, pp. 1900784
Light-driven soft actuators with adaptive shape changes, diverse geometric morphing, and reversible macroscopic movements have gained ever-increasing interest owing to their diverse applications ranging from biomedical to aerospace devices. Herein, presented is a near-infrared (NIR) light-stimulated actuator based on cis-1,4 polybutadiene-polyethylene semicrystalline copolymer. In the system, a newly synthesized croconaine dye, 2,5-bis[(6-(11-carboxyundecanoate)hexyl-4-carboxylate-piperidylamino) thiophenyl]-croconium, serves as both an NIR absorbing agent and cross-linker. Taking advantage of easy processability, two-way shape memory, and photothermal effects, the actuators thus-made can undergo intriguing motions in response to NIR irradiation. As a light-fueled crane, this material shows outstanding heavy-lift capability; it can lift an item 11 200 times its own weight, and the lifting up/down motions are fully reversible. Besides, the photothermally induced expansion and contraction enables the actuator with reversible bending motions to serve as other remotely controlled soft robots; a light-driven grasper that can grasp, lift up, lower down, and release an object and a walking robot that can crawl on a ratcheted substrate.