Self-Folded Gripper-Like Architectures from Stimuli-Responsive Bilayers

Arif M. Abdullah, Xiuling Li, Paul V. Braun, John A. Rogers, K. Jimmy Hsia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-folding microgrippers are an emerging class of smart structures that have widespread applications in medicine and micro/nanomanipulation. To achieve their functionalities, these architectures rely on spatially patterned hinges to transform into 3D configurations in response to an external stimulus. Incorporating hinges into the devices requires the processing of multiple layers which eventually increases the fabrication costs and actuation complexities. The goal of this work is to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve gripper-like configurations in an on-demand manner from simple planar bilayers that do not require hinges for their actuation. Finite element modeling of bilayers is performed to understand the mechanics behind their stimuli-responsive shape transformation behavior. The model predictions are then experimentally validated and axisymmetric gripper-like shapes are realized using millimeter-scale poly(dimethylsiloxane) bilayers that undergo differential swelling in organic solvents. Owing to the nature of the computational scheme which is independent of length scales and material properties, the guidelines reported here would be applicable to a diverse array of gripping systems and functional devices. Thus, this work not only demonstrates a simple route to fabricate functional microgrippers but also contributes to self-assembly in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1801669
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 2 2018


  • bifurcation
  • functional grippers
  • self-folding
  • soft robotics
  • stimuli-responsive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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