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Advanced materials: application of flexible electrothermal actuator based on laser-induced graphene in 3D self-assembly and human-computer interaction

3D structural materials are widely used in microelectronics optoelectronics MEMS biomedicine other fields. The fabrication methods of 3D structures mainly include 3D printing template growth fluid self-assembly mechanical guided buckling assembly so on. Among them mechanics guided buckling assembly has attracted wide attention due to its simple efficient good compatibility with semiconductor processing technology. The processing method usually starts with the two-dimensional precursor structure which guides the out of plane buckling of the two-dimensional material by controlling the deformation of the substrate material then forms a complex three-dimensional configuration. However in the emerging fields such as responsive metamaterials soft robots controllable optoelectronic devices three-dimensional structures with controllable deformation capability are needed which is the bottleneck restricting the application of three-dimensional structural materials in broader fields.

Professor Yan Zheng of University of Missouri Columbia Professor Zhang Yihui of Tsinghua University reported a flexible actuator based on laser-induced graphene. Through the electrothermal drive the deformation of the flexible actuator can be controlled simply accurately to form a three-dimensional structure. Based on the finite element analysis more than 20 complex three-dimensional structures have been successfully fabricated. It includes three-dimensional structures that can switch reversibly among three different geometries. In addition we successfully fabricated a three-dimensional structure which can maintain three-dimensional shape at room temperature without any driving by fabricating a flexible actuator at a higher temperature introducing thermal stress purposefully. The authors also show the applications of human interaction with flexible actuators (including responsive metamaterials robot doctors) artificial muscles (which can lift objects about 110 times their own weight) bionic frog tongue (which can capture insects). Papers published online in advanced materials

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