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      Materials tactile logic via innervated soft thermochromic elastomers

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          Abstract

          Conventional machines rely on rigid, centralized electronic components to make decisions, which limits complexity and scaling. Here, we show that decision making can be realized on the material-level without relying on semiconductor-based logic. Inspired by the distributed decision making that exists in the arms of an octopus, we present a completely soft, stretchable silicone composite doped with thermochromic pigments and innervated with liquid metal. The ability to deform the liquid metal couples geometric changes to Joule heating, thus enabling tunable thermo-mechanochromic sensing of touch and strain. In more complex circuits, deformation of the metal can redistribute electrical energy to distal portions of the network in a way that converts analog tactile ‘inputs’ into digital colorimetric ‘outputs’. Using the material itself as the active player in the decision making process offers possibilities for creating entirely soft devices that respond locally to environmental interactions or act as embedded sensors for feedback loops.

          Abstract

          Designing bio-inspired computational features in soft systems without centralized processing remains challenging. Here, the authors propose a passive display based on thermochromic elastomers by leveraging Joule heating of embedded liquid metal wires by changing geometry in response to deformation.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Biosensing with plasmonic nanosensors.

          Recent developments have greatly improved the sensitivity of optical sensors based on metal nanoparticle arrays and single nanoparticles. We introduce the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensor and describe how its exquisite sensitivity to size, shape and environment can be harnessed to detect molecular binding events and changes in molecular conformation. We then describe recent progress in three areas representing the most significant challenges: pushing sensitivity towards the single-molecule detection limit, combining LSPR with complementary molecular identification techniques such as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, and practical development of sensors and instrumentation for routine use and high-throughput detection. This review highlights several exceptionally promising research directions and discusses how diverse applications of plasmonic nanoparticles can be integrated in the near future.
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            An integrated design and fabrication strategy for entirely soft, autonomous robots.

            Soft robots possess many attributes that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with conventional robots composed of rigid materials. Yet, despite recent advances, soft robots must still be tethered to hard robotic control systems and power sources. New strategies for creating completely soft robots, including soft analogues of these crucial components, are needed to realize their full potential. Here we report the untethered operation of a robot composed solely of soft materials. The robot is controlled with microfluidic logic that autonomously regulates fluid flow and, hence, catalytic decomposition of an on-board monopropellant fuel supply. Gas generated from the fuel decomposition inflates fluidic networks downstream of the reaction sites, resulting in actuation. The body and microfluidic logic of the robot are fabricated using moulding and soft lithography, respectively, and the pneumatic actuator networks, on-board fuel reservoirs and catalytic reaction chambers needed for movement are patterned within the body via a multi-material, embedded 3D printing technique. The fluidic and elastomeric architectures required for function span several orders of magnitude from the microscale to the macroscale. Our integrated design and rapid fabrication approach enables the programmable assembly of multiple materials within this architecture, laying the foundation for completely soft, autonomous robots.
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              Eutectic Gallium-Indium (EGaIn): A Liquid Metal Alloy for the Formation of Stable Structures in Microchannels at Room Temperature

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                ge_mingqiao@126.com
                mddickey@ncsu.edu
                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2041-1723
                13 September 2019
                13 September 2019
                2019
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2173 6074, GRID grid.40803.3f, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, , North Carolina State University, ; 911 Partners Way, Raleigh, NC 27695 USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0708 1323, GRID grid.258151.a, College of Textile and Clothing, , Jiangnan University, ; 1800 Lihu Ave, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province 214122 China
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0454 365X, GRID grid.411750.6, Department of Chemistry, , University of Isfahan, ; Isfahan, 8174673441 Iran
                Article
                12161
                10.1038/s41467-019-12161-1
                6744443
                31519906
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                © The Author(s) 2019

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                electrical and electronic engineering, rheology, liquid crystals

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