Artificial Organic Skin Wets Its Surface by Field-Induced Liquid Secretion
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Academic › peer-review
Living organisms enhance their survival rate by excreting fluids at their surface, but man-made materials can also benefit from liquid secretion from a solid surface. Known approaches to secrete a liquid from solids are limited to passive release driven by diffusion, surface tension, or pressure. Remotely triggered release would give active control over surface properties but is still exceptional. Here, we report on an artificial skin that secretes functional fluids by means of radiofrequency electrical signals driven by dielectric liquid transport in a (sub-)microporous smectic liquid crystal network. The smectic order of the polymer network and its director determine the flow direction and enhance fluid transport toward the surface at pre-set positions. The released fluid can be reabsorbed by the skin using capillary filling. The fluid-active skins open avenues for robotic handling of chemicals and medicines, controlling tribology and fluid-supported surface cleaning.