Chinese scholars have successfully developed soft drives with advanced intelligent behavior characteristics

Recently, the research group of Professor Yang Hong, Institute of Intelligent Materials and School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of Southeast University, has made important progress in the field of light-controlled soft drive research, combining topological design with liquid crystal elastomer materials to develop a soft drive with multi-mode, self-sustaining and tunable motion. The research results were published in the top international journal “German Applied Chemistry” and were selected as VIP papers.

Multi-modal, self-sustaining, tunable motion modes are the advanced intelligent behavioral characteristics of living organisms, such as the autonomous swing and tumble of dolphins, and are also the research hotspot of bionic soft drives. Software drivers are expected to self-perceive external signals, make decisions, and perform long-term, specific tasks without human intervention. However, the key problem restricting the development of software driver autonomy is that single-component drivers only have one self-sustaining motion mode, which cannot give a single driver a multi-modal, self-sustaining and tunable behavior mode.

Yang Hong’s group designed an optical drive Seifert surface topology driver with multi-modal, self-sustaining and tunable motion modes. The driver is self-sensing changes in the light source region, autonomously adjusts its drive components to strips or rings, and adaptively enters self-sustaining oscillation or rotational response mode. The two types of self-sustaining drive modes implement different negative feedback loops to ensure the accuracy and sustainability of the motion mode, and are further applied to the field of self-oscillating power generation based on piezoelectric effect and self-rotating cargo transportation based on power multiplication mechanism. In addition, this paper verifies the feasibility of the Seifert surface topology driver to drive the self-sustaining motion of sunlight in outdoor environment.

Light-driven Seifert surface topology driver self-sensing changes in the light source region Photo courtesy of Southeast University

This paper proposes a new strategy for topology encoding software driver functions, shifting the research focus from traditional modular assembly and embedded algorithms to simple topology construction, so as to realize functional complexity and autonomy, and open up new perspectives for software driver research.

Seifert curved actuator can absorb sunlight for autonomous continuous oscillation, repeatedly squeeze and bend the polyvinylidene fluoride piezoelectric layer, and then polarization occurs inside the piezoelectric layer, and positive and negative opposite charges appear on the two opposite surfaces to achieve electrical signal output, and its maximum open-circuit voltage reaches 243mV. The self-oscillating generator completely gets rid of manual on/off operation, realizes fully automatic photoelectric energy conversion, provides a new independent power production strategy for low-carbon technology, and can be applied to outdoor portable self-power supply and smart home fields in the future. (Source: China Science News, Wang Meng, Chen Bin)

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