About this Research Topic
Soft materials such as polymers, elastomers, and gels are being widely exploited as key components for soft robots in biomedical domains, with great expectations for long-term, high-efficacy, and safe performances due to their softness, responsiveness, and biocompatibility. Despite this progress, the field of soft robotics is still faced with a set of key challenges, as current designs are limited to relatively large scales, tethered actuations, and a short lifecycle. Burgeoning efforts are being made to develop soft extreme materials, materials that can sustain extreme conditions (fatigue, dynamic loading, chemical, etc.) via their unprecedented mechanical and physical properties. These properties can be achieved through the synergy of mechanics, materials, and fabrications, due to their potential to address the abovementioned limitations in soft robotics and achieve previously inaccessible performances. Representative soft extreme materials include electro-, magneto-, and photo-active elastomers, fatigue-resistant soft materials, biomimetic soft composites, and buckling/instability-enabled soft metamaterials/composites/structures.
This Research Topic focuses on the recent efforts in soft extreme materials and their applications in soft robotics, including sensors, actuators, electronics, optical and acoustic devices. Manuscripts can cover fundamental studies on soft extreme materials through theory, experiments, and simulations, material design of soft extreme materials through advanced 2D/3D/4D fabrications, and applications of soft extreme materials in soft robots for previously inaccessible functions and performances.
The central goal of this Research Topic is to enable strong, high-efficacy, and configurable soft robots, for addressing grand societal challenges such as healthcare, sustainability, and joy of living.
The scope of the Research Topic includes but is not limited to 1) Specific properties of soft extreme materials that enable the key functions of soft robotics; 2) Fundamental mechanics to guide the design of these properties; 3) Applications of soft extreme materials in robotic design and motion control; 4) Design of smart sensors and actuators.
We are interested in manuscripts in the form of Original Research, Brief Research Report, and Review Articles.
The specific themes include but are not limited to
• Soft materials under extreme conditions (e.g., fatigue, dynamic loading, chemical, temperature)
• Functional soft composites
• Robot design and motion control
• Bioinspired and biomimetic soft robots
• Smart materials-based sensors and actuators
• Novel actuation of soft active materials (e.g., electro-, magneto-, photo-)
• Biohybrid soft machines
• Mechanical responses of soft materials in various geometries and architectures
• Micro/Nano soft robots
• Buckling/instability-enabled soft metamaterials/composites/structures
Keywords: Extreme Properties, Soft Machines, Soft Robotics, Soft Composites, Active Materials
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.