What is it about?

This paper describes a material that can crawl (like a caterpillar) inside water in response to electric fields. The electric fields create stresses in the material (which is a hydrogel - a water swollen polymer) to induce actuation. The materials are completely soft and the motion is controlled externally with electric fields. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L71hCFdYnwo

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Why is it important?

Such "soft robots" are of interest for carrying out tasks (e.g. sensing, exploration) in environments where conventional rigid robots fail.

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This page is a summary of: Electro-actuated hydrogel walkers with dual responsive legs, Soft Matter, January 2014, Royal Society of Chemistry, DOI: 10.1039/c3sm51921j.
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