A multiple-shape memory polymer-metal composite actuator capable of programmable control, creating complex 3D motion of bending, twisting, and oscillation

Document Type



Development of biomimetic actuators has been an essential motivation in the study of smart materials. However, few materials are capable of controlling complex twisting and bending deformations simultaneously or separately using a dynamic control system. Here, we report an ionic polymer-metal composite actuator having multiple-shape memory effect, and is able to perform complex motion by two external inputs, electrical and thermal. Prior to the development of this type of actuator, this capability only could be realized with existing actuator technologies by using multiple actuators or another robotic system. This paper introduces a soft multiple-shape-memory polymer-metal composite (MSMPMC) actuator having multiple degrees-of-freedom that demonstrates high maneuverability when controlled by two external inputs, electrical and thermal. These multiple inputs allow for complex motions that are routine in nature, but that would be otherwise difficult to obtain with a single actuator. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this MSMPMC actuator is the first solitary actuator capable of multiple-input control and the resulting deformability and maneuverability.