A research team from Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology developed an electroactive artificial finger using soft actuators that could perform various sophisticated tasks such as gently touching delicate liquid crystal display, according to the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF).
The KAIST research team, led by mechanical engineering professor Oh Il-kwon, developed an electro-ionic soft actuator that operates smoothly on the surface of smartphones or haptic displays. The actuator exhibits high bending displacement and irregular response characteristics under low input voltages.
Actuators are devices that transform electrical signals into mechanical motion. The research team utilized a new class of nanoporous carbon material called metal-free covalent triazine frameworks or CTFs. The team used the new material to develop a high-performance electro-ionic soft actuator.
The porous structure maximizes the surface area of the artificial finger, enhancing its operational responsiveness and speed. This solves the slow response speed of soft actuators on low voltage devices, including smartphones.
Wide Range of Capabilities
Through the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications, the team reported that they successfully used a soft robotic touch finger to perform precise tasks on a fragile display. The artificial finger could play various music through an electric piano.
The actuator successfully played the full-length of the song “Happy Birthday” in a systematic method on a piano app. It could also flip pages of an e-book and scroll smoothly on a smartphone screen.
The KAIST team said that the soft robotic finger could be used for different applications, including operating apps to control hazardous experiments and sophisticated biomedical devices.
Soft robots, such as artificial fingers and muscles, have a wide range of use in wearable devices, advanced surgical tools, drug delivery, and other human-machine interactions.
The KAIST team said that every component of soft robots must meet specific requirements to match their targeted functionalities. The critical challenge is to deliver the correct durability, flexibility, capacitance, softness, and other appropriate mechanical properties.
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