Reconfiguring Gaussian Curvature of Hydrogel Sheets with Photoswitchable Host–Guest Interactions
Photoinduced shape morphing has implications in fields ranging from soft robotics to biomedical devices. Despite considerable effort in this area, it remains a challenge to design materials that can be both rapidly deployed and reconfigured into multiple different three-dimensional forms, particularly in aqueous environments. In this work, we present a simple method to program and rewrite spatial variations in swelling and, therefore, Gaussian curvature in thin sheets of hydrogels using photoswitchable supramolecular complexation of azobenzene pendent groups with dissolved α-cyclodextrin. We show that the extent of swelling can be programmed via the proportion of azobenzene isomers, with a 60% decrease in areal swelling from the all trans to the predominantly cis state near room temperature. The use of thin gel sheets provides fast response times in the range of a few tens of seconds, while the shape change is persistent in the absence of light thanks to the slow rate of thermal cis–trans isomerization. Finally, we demonstrate that a single gel sheet can be programmed with a first swelling pattern via spatially defined illumination with ultraviolet light, then erased with white light, and finally redeployed with a different swelling pattern.
Journal or Book Title
ACS Macro Letters
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