Versatile Actuators Based on Polypyrrole-Coated Metalized Eggshell Membranes

Eggshell membranes were employed as biological scaffolds for developing soft and versatile actuators. A particular architecture, consisting of eggshell membrane coated with polypyrrole, has been fabricated and has been found to be a green, inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to handle class of actuators. The polypyrrole-coated eggshell membrane devices were tested in liquid, ambient atmosphere and controlled humidity environment, with the recorded movements proving their versatility. In 1 M NaCl aqueous solution, by applying successive potential pulses, the actuator contracts/expands owing to the expulsion/insertion of the electrolyte ions out/into polypyrrole film, producing a displacement of ∼0.1 cm. In air, upon application of voltages from 2 to 5 V on a V-shaped geometry actuator, it bends due to water desorption from its structure induced by Joule heating, generating a displacement which reaches ∼0.4 cm at 5 V. In a chamber with controlled humidity, the decrease of humidity stimulates a bending/curling motion of the actuator, achieving a displacement of ∼2.1 cm at 50% relative humidity. Upon modification of the humidity, these actuators move, hold, and release delicate and lightweight objects. Such polypyrrole-coated eggshell membrane actuators which operate in different environments and respond to multiple stimuli can have potential applications in biomimetic micromanipulators or artificial muscle fields.