Remote Sensing and Remote Actuation via Silicone–Magnetic Nanorod Composites

Advanced Materials Technologies 2021 Volume 6, Issue 6, Article 2001099

The capacity for a soft material to combine remote sensing and remote actuation is highly desirable for many applications in soft robotics and wearable technologies. This work presents a silicone elastomer with a suspension of a small weight fraction of ferromagnetic nickel nanorods, which is capable of both sensing deformation and altering stiffness in the presence of an external magnetic field. Cylinders composed of silicone elastomer and 1% by weight nickel nanorods experience large increases in compressive modulus when exposed to an external magnetic field. Incremental compressions totaling 600 g of force applied to the same silicone–nanorod composites increase the magnetic field strength measured by a Hall effect sensor enabling the material to be used as a soft load cell capable of detecting the rate, duration, and magnitude of force applied. In addition, lattice structures are 3D printed using an ink composed of silicone elastomer and 1% by weight nickel nanorods, which possess the same sensing capacity.