Biodegradable and edible gelatine actuators for use as artificial muscles

Lily Chambers, Jonathan Winfield, Ioannis Ieropoulos, Jonathan M Rossiter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

14 Citations (Scopus)


The expense and use of non-recyclable materials often requires the retrieval and recovery of exploratory robots. Therefore, conventional materials such as plastics and metals in robotics can be limiting. For applications such as environmental monitoring, a fully biodegradable or edible robot may provide the optimum solution. Materials that provide power and actuation as well as biodegradability provide a compelling dimension to future robotic systems. To highlight the potential of novel biodegradable and edible materials as artificial muscles, the actuation of a biodegradable hydrogel was investigated. The fabricated gelatine based polymer gel was inexpensive, easy to handle, biodegradable and edible. The electro-mechanical performance was assessed using two contactless, parallel stainless steel electrodes immersed in 0.1M NaOH solution and fixed 40 mm apart with the strip actuator pinned directly between the electrodes. The actuation displacement in response to a bias voltage was measured over hydration/de-hydration cycles. Long term (11 days) and short term (1 hour) investigations demonstrated the bending behaviour of the swollen material in response to an electric field. Actuation voltage was low (<10 V) resulting in a slow actuation response with large displacement angles (<55 degrees). The stability of the immersed material decreased within the first hour due to swelling, however, was recovered on de-hydrating between actuations. The controlled degradation of biodegradable and edible artificial muscles could help to drive the development of environmentally friendly robotics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceeding of SPIE
Subtitle of host publicationElectroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices
PublisherSociety of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2014

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


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