Dampened Transient Actuation of Hydrogels Autonomously Controlled by pH-Responsive Bicontinuous Nanospheres

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The fabrication of a soft actuator with a dampened actuation response is presented. This was achieved via the incorporation into an actuating hydrogel of urease-loaded pH-responsive bicontinuous nanospheres (BCNs), whose membrane was able to regulate the permeability and thus conversion of fuel urea into ammonia. The dampened response of these nanoreactors to the enzymatically induced pH change was translated to a pH-responsive soft actuator. In hydrogels composed of a pH-responsive and nonresponsive layer, the transient pH gradient yielded an asymmetric swelling behavior, which induced a bending response. The transient actuation profile could be controlled by varying the external fuel concentrations. Furthermore, we showed that the spatial organization of the BCNs within the actuator had a great influence on the actuation response. Embedding the urease-loaded nanoreactors within the active, pH-responsive layer resulted in a reduced response due to local substrate conversion in comparison to embedding them within the passive layer of the bilayer hydrogel. Finally, we were able to induce transient actuation in a hydrogel comprising two identical active layers by the immobilization of the BCNs within one specific layer. Upon addition of urea, a local pH gradient was generated, which caused accelerated swelling in the BCN layer and transient bending of the device before the pH gradient was attenuated over time.

Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)19642-19650
Aantal pagina's9
TijdschriftACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Nummer van het tijdschrift15
StatusGepubliceerd - 17 apr. 2024


The authors thank the NWO TA program \u201CSoft Advanced Materials\u201D (741.018.202), the Spinoza premium SPI 71-259, and the gravitation program Interactive Polymer Materials, 024.005.020, for financial support.

Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek741.018.202, 024.005.020, SPI 71-259


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