An artificial aquatic polyp that wirelessly attracts, grasps, and releases objects

Marina Pilz da Cunha, Harkamaljot S. Kandail, Jaap M.J. den Toonder (Corresponding author), Albert P.H.J. Schenning (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The development of light-responsive materials has captured scientific attention and advanced the development of wirelessly driven terrestrial soft robots. Marine organisms trigger inspiration to expand the paradigm of untethered soft robotics into aqueous environments. However, this expansion toward aquatic soft robots is hampered by the slow response of most light-driven polymers to low light intensities and by the lack of controlled multishape deformations. Herein, we present a surface-anchored artificial aquatic coral polyp composed of a magnetically driven stem and a light-driven gripper. Through magnetically driven motion, the polyp induces stirring and attracts suspended targets. The light-responsive gripper is sensitive to low light intensities and has programmable states and rapid and highly controlled actuation, allowing the polyp to capture or release targets on demand. The artificial polyp demonstrates that assemblies of stimuli-responsive materials in water utilizing coordinated motion can perform tasks not possible for single-component devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17571-17577
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2020


  • light-responsive polymers
  • magnetic responsive polymers
  • soft robotics


Dive into the research topics of 'An artificial aquatic polyp that wirelessly attracts, grasps, and releases objects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this