Synergistic photoactuation of bilayered spiropyran hydrogels for predictable origami-like shape change

Chuang Li, Yeguang Xue, Mengdi Han, Liam C. Palmer, John A. Rogers, Yonggang Huang*, Samuel I. Stupp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


A grand challenge for materials science is the development of biomimetic soft matter that emulates behaviors of living creatures in response to an energy input. Photoresponsive hydrogels are particularly attractive in this context because they can expand or contract in response to light through reversible changes in molecular structure and internal water content. Using hydrogels developed recently in our laboratory, which expand with light exposure, and previously known ones that contract, we report here on the synergistic faster bending actuation of bilayered hydrogels with opposite response to light. We also show that constructs with chemically connected sequences of bilayer and photoinactive hydrogels undergo reversible and predictable origami-like 3D shape changes as well as unidirectional walking motion when exposed to light and dark periods. This work advances our ability to design molecularly life-like behavior in robotic soft materials responding to external stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1377-1390
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 7 2021


  • MAP4: Demonstrate
  • bilayers
  • hydrogels
  • locomotion
  • origami
  • photoactuation
  • photocontraction
  • photoexpansion
  • photoswitches
  • spiropyran
  • synergistic actuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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