A team of researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Jeonbuk National University (JBNU) has manufactured a soft robot that moves in response to its surroundings and features a smart sensor for detecting methanol.

The design of the soft robot, according to its developers, is unlike similar robots, moving in response to its surroundings rather than controlled via computing. To enable this natural movement, the team patterned two types of flexible polymer films featuring different expandability, allowing the robot to bend, fold and twist.

Source: KISTSource: KIST

Also incorporated into the design of the soft robot is a helicoidal nanostructure that results in photonic crystal properties that reflect various colors of light selectively. As the robot moves in response to changes in its immediate environment, those changes are recognizable via color changes, according to the soft robot’s developers.

Meanwhile, the sensor quickly and easily detects methanol contamination in water with the application of the soft photonic crystal robot, which can be reused and does not require electricity.

The soft robot is detailed in the article, “Chiroptical 3D Actuators for Smart Sensors,” which appears in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

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