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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When the Philae lander bounced on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, it exposed primitive icy-dust material within cometary boulders; the intrinsic strength and porosity of this material is reported.
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.
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.
A hexagonal self-assembled monolayer of soft microparticles acts as the template for a second layer of the same particles, forcing the formation of patterns with unexpected structural symmetries and complexities.
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.
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.
A device involving a polytetrafluoroethylene film, an indium tin oxide substrate and an aluminium electrode allows improved electricity generation from water droplets, which bridge the previously disconnected circuit components.
Study of droplets containing nematic liquid crystal oligomers shows that a heterogeneous distribution of chain lengths plays a key part in driving reversible shape transformations with cooling and heating.
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.
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.
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.
Slice-and-view scanning electron microscopy tomography is used to characterize a double-gyroid block copolymer, finding mesoatomic distortions that break the symmetry of these soft-matter crystals across multiple scales.
Tissue rheology emerges from the interplay between fibrous networks and cell inclusions, and the mechanical properties of tissues are modulated by restricting the relaxation modes of fibres close to volume-conserving cells.
The limitations of conventional chemical doping of polymeric semiconductors can be overcome by adding a second ionic species into the system, leading to enhanced doping, electrical conductivity and stability.
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.
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.
A mechanism for creating patterns of iridescent structural colour by total internal reflection of light beams along a concave optical interface leading to interference is described, for complex microscopic systems and for systems as simple as condensed water drops.
An organic copolymer with compositionally tailored tacticity exhibits behaviour reminiscent of a morphotropic phase boundary, with an intramolecular order-to-disorder transition in the crystalline phase and a very large piezoelectric coefficient.
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.
Frontal polymerization of dicyclopentadiene is used to generate thermoset polymers and composite materials with much lower energy requirements and cure times than are needed in conventional oven or autoclave curing approaches.