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A stimuli-responsive self-actuating 3D-printed material capable of performing complex timed functions and simple logical operations in response to multiple stimuli.
Mechanical systems with nonlinear properties are known to be highly sensitive to structural changes, particularly at geometric branch points. Such stimuli-responsive materials are useful for creating active materials with applications in microfluidics, medical devices, and robotics. However, available systems exhibit variable functionality due to high sensitivity to stimuli and low controllability of structural changes. Current technologies require rigid electronics, wires, control systems, or human intervention for proper function, which limits their use in many environments.
The technology is a stimuli-responsive anisotropic composite material that autonomously and reversibly changes structure upon contact with a defined trigger. The actuation is driven by the release of internal stresses accumulated due to the response of the anisotropic material to the external stimuli. The functionality of the material is coupled with Finite Element Analysis calculations to determine the optimal geometry for desired functions. The result is a self-powered device capable of performing simple logical operations and precisely timed resettable movements and is scalable from microscopic to building-size scales.