Engineering 101

Jelly and Salt—Part of the Recipe for Self-Healing Robots?

A low-cost, biodegradable, 3-D printed, self-healing jelly may be changing the face of soft robotics.

The material can detect damage and initiate healing, all without human intervention. It can do so at room temperature rather than requiring heat like its predecessors.

Researchers discovered that printing sensors into the stretchy, gelatine-based substance with salt allowed a uniform channel for ionic conduction—the movement of ions. This consistent channel resulted in a highly linear response that allowed them to measure strain via the deformations of the material. The addition of salt also enabled them to measure stretchability of more than three times the sensor’s original length.

The gelatine and salt substance’s cost, long-term strength, stability without drying out, biocompatibility, and self-healing abilities can be incorporated into many different types of robots.

The team published their findings in NPG Asia Materials.

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