This starfish-like grabber is the prototype for a pneumatic soft robotic arm made of soft plastic that has been introduced in the journal Angewandte Chemie by George M. Whitesides and his team at Harvard University (Boston, USA).
Whether used in the production of machines or modern surgery, in the deactivation of explosive devices or unmanned spacecraft, robots have become indispensable in many areas. However, the manipulation of delicate objects, such as fruit or internal organs, remains a difficult task for conventional hard robotic arms. It could be easier with soft robot components.
Whitesides and his co-workers want to realize this idea with a new approach based on pneumatic networks (PneuNets): they embedded channels in elastic plastics known as elastomers. To actuate movement, the channels are simply inflated like balloons. This causes the channels to expand into those areas of the elastomer that are the most yielding. In homogeneous elastomers, these are the areas with the thinnest walls; if there are different materials they are the areas with walls made of the softer, more elastic of the materials. To make room for all of the bulky inflated channels next to each other, the entire component curves so that the more severely stretched walls are on the outside. To produce prototypes capable of complex movement, the researchers combined a series of such components.
How the component deforms depends on both the design and the materials used. Whitesides and his co-workers joined parts made of two different stiff silicon elastomers to program the movement. They were thus able to make starfish-like grabbers. Inflating these devices causes them to curl around an object to grasp it like fingers on a hand. Their touch is so soft that they can even be entrusted with a raw egg or a living mouse. In contrast to hard robotic arms, no complex precisely tuned control with sensors is necessary.
Author: George M. Whitesides, Harvard University, Cambridge (USA), http://gmwgroup.harvard.edu/contact.html
Title: Soft Robotics for Chemists
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201006464
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy