Soft materials

  • Article |

    An all-in-one methodology for fabricating soft robotics reported here uses interfacial flows in elastomers that cure to produce actuators that can be tailored to suit applications from artificial muscles to grippers.

    • Trevor J. Jones
    • , Etienne Jambon-Puillet
    •  & P.-T. Brun
  • Article |

    Hollow colloidal capsules, each with a single micropore, act as artificial cell-like structures that can capture and release payloads such as solid particles or bacteria from the external environment.

    • Zhe Xu
    • , Theodore Hueckel
    •  & Stefano Sacanna
  • Article |

    Surface enhancements in glass mobility are complicated in polymers by the interplay of the surface mobile layer thickness with a second length scale (the size of the polymer chains), giving rise to a transient rubbery surface even in polymers with short chains.

    • Zhiwei Hao
    • , Asieh Ghanekarade
    •  & Biao Zuo
  • Article |

    Model patchy colloids with directional bonding are designed that assemble into icosahedral quasicrystals through the propagation of an icosahedral network of bonds and may be realized using DNA origami particles.

    • Eva G. Noya
    • , Chak Kui Wong
    •  & Jonathan P. K. Doye
  • Article |

    A structured fabric constructed of linked hollow polyhedral particles (resembling chain mail) can be simply and reversibly tuned between flexible and rigid states; when it is compressed, its linked particles become jammed.

    • Yifan Wang
    • , Liuchi Li
    •  & Chiara Daraio
  • Article |

    Through precise structural engineering, perovskite nanocrystals are co-assembled with other nanocrystal materials to form a range of binary and ternary perovskite-type superlattices that exhibit superfluorescence.

    • Ihor Cherniukh
    • , Gabriele Rainò
    •  & Maksym V. Kovalenko
  • Article |

    A two-tiered dynamic design strategy achieves topological transformations of two-dimensional polymeric cellular microstructures in a reversible and temporally controllable manner through exposure to different liquids.

    • Shucong Li
    • , Bolei Deng
    •  & Joanna Aizenberg
  • Article |

    A diversity-oriented synthesis approach that yields a library of architecturally broad microporous polymers is used to develop structurally diverse polymer membranes with ion specificity and to screen their properties.

    • Miranda J. Baran
    • , Mark E. Carrington
    •  & Brett A. Helms
  • Article |

    Polymer-covered inorganic nanoparticles are designed to self-assemble into micrometre-sized superlattice crystallites that can subsequently be built into freestanding centimetre-scale solids with hierarchical order across seven orders of magnitude.

    • Peter J. Santos
    • , Paul A. Gabrys
    •  & Robert J. Macfarlane
  • Article |

    A free-swimming soft robot inspired by deep-sea creatures, with artificial muscle, power and control electronics spread across a polymer matrix, successfully adapts to high pressure and operates in the deep ocean.

    • Guorui Li
    • , Xiangping Chen
    •  & Wei Yang
  • Article |

    Polycarbonates and polyesters with materials properties like those of high-density polyethylene can be recycled chemically by depolymerization to their constituent monomers, re-polymerization yielding material with uncompromised processing and materials properties.

    • Manuel Häußler
    • , Marcel Eck
    •  & Stefan Mecking
  • Article |

    Dispersion of colloidal disks in a nematic liquid crystal reveals several low-symmetry phases, including monoclinic colloidal nematic order, with interchange between them achieved through variations in temperature, concentration and surface charge.

    • Haridas Mundoor
    • , Jin-Sheng Wu
    •  & Ivan I. Smalyukh
  • Article |

    Frank–Kasper phases are observed in small organic molecules from the crystallization of fampridine hydrochloride into two distinct structures, indicating that complex self-assembled structures can arise from simple organic salts.

    • Riccardo Montis
    • , Luca Fusaro
    •  & A. David Rae
  • Article |

    A reprogrammable mechanical metamaterial constructed of bistable unit cells that can be switched independently and reversibly between two stable states with distinct mechanical properties using magnetic actuation is demonstrated.

    • Tian Chen
    • , Mark Pauly
    •  & Pedro M. Reis
  • Article |

    A theoretical model, in vitro reconstitution and in vivo experimentation show that competition between droplet surface tension and membrane sheet instability dictates the form and function of autophagosomal membranes.

    • Jaime Agudo-Canalejo
    • , Sebastian W. Schultz
    •  & Roland L. Knorr
  • Article |

    Self-assembly of cubic diamond crystals is demonstrated, by using precursor clusters of particles with carefully placed ‘sticky’ patches that attract and bind adjacent clusters in specific geometries.

    • Mingxin He
    • , Johnathon P. Gales
    •  & David J. Pine
  • Article |

    A direct ink writing protocol for silica aerogels enables 3D printing of lightweight, miniaturized objects with complex shapes, with the possibility to easily add functionality by incorporating nanoparticles.

    • Shanyu Zhao
    • , Gilberto Siqueira
    •  & Wim J. Malfait
  • Article |

    A method of endowing thermoset plastics with a degree of recyclability and reprocessability by incorporating cleavable chemical linkages in the strands of the polymer, rather than in the crosslinks, is presented.

    • Peyton Shieh
    • , Wenxu Zhang
    •  & Jeremiah A. Johnson
  • Article |

    Water-repellent nanostructures are housed within an interconnected microstructure frame to yield mechanically robust superhydrophobic surfaces.

    • Dehui Wang
    • , Qiangqiang Sun
    •  & Xu Deng
  • Article |

    Wall-free liquid channels surrounded by an immiscible magnetic liquid can be used to create liquid circuitry or to transport human blood without damaging the blood cells by moving permanent magnets.

    • Peter Dunne
    • , Takuji Adachi
    •  & Thomas M. Hermans
  • Article |

    Oppositely charged colloidal particles are assembled in water through an approach that allows electrostatic interactions to be precisely tuned to generate macroscopic single crystals.

    • Theodore Hueckel
    • , Glen M. Hocky
    •  & Stefano Sacanna
  • Article |

    Layered nanocomposites fabricated using a continuous and scalable process achieve properties exceeding those of natural nacre, the result of stiffened matrix polymer chains confined between highly aligned nanosheets.

    • Chuangqi Zhao
    • , Pengchao Zhang
    •  & Lei Jiang
  • Article |

    Cryo-STEM tomography of ferritin crystallization is used to reveal nonclassical evolution of crystalline order, indicating that it may be desolvation that drives the continuous evolution of order in crystallization.

    • Lothar Houben
    • , Haim Weissman
    •  & Boris Rybtchinski
  • Article |

    Voxelated soft matter is designed and fabricated using multimaterial multinozzle three-dimensional printing, which switches between different viscoelastic inks along the same print filament to print multiple materials simultaneously.

    • Mark A. Skylar-Scott
    • , Jochen Mueller
    •  & Jennifer A. Lewis
  • Article |

    Heavier-than-air insect-scale aerial robots powered by soft artificial muscles can hover and also recover from in-flight collisions, illustrating the potential for developing next-generation agile soft robots.

    • Yufeng Chen
    • , Huichan Zhao
    •  & Robert J. Wood
  • Article |

    A new strong, biocompatible and biodegradable double-sided tape can adhere to wet tissues and devices through a mechanism involving rapid water removal from the surface, swift hydrogen and electrostatic interactions, and covalent bonding.

    • Hyunwoo Yuk
    • , Claudia E. Varela
    •  & Xuanhe Zhao
  • Letter |

    A stretchable polymer pump that uses electric fields to accelerate ions in dielectric liquids can generate flow even when bent into different conformations, offering applications in soft robotics.

    • Vito Cacucciolo
    • , Jun Shintake
    •  & Herbert Shea
  • Letter |

    Extraordinarily thick organic light-emitting diodes can be fabricated using hybrid organic–inorganic perovskites as the transport layers, thus relaxing fabrication constraints without affecting their efficiency, voltage requirement or durability.

    • Toshinori Matsushima
    • , Fatima Bencheikh
    •  & Chihaya Adachi
  • Letter |

    Unstructured light controls the elastic monopole moments of nematic liquid-crystal colloidal particles and switches them to quadrupoles, with like-charged monopoles attracting and oppositely charged ones repelling, enabling reconfigurable dynamic self-assembly.

    • Ye Yuan
    • , Qingkun Liu
    •  & Ivan I. Smalyukh
  • Letter |

    A lithographic patterning and release method is used to create a dense, fluctuating, Brownian system of mobile colloidal kite- and dart-shaped Penrose tiles over large areas that retains quasi-crystalline order.

    • Po-Yuan Wang
    •  & Thomas G. Mason