Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Biodegradable and edible gelatine actuators for use as artificial muscles

Ieropoulos, I.; Chambers, L. D.; Winfield, J.; Ieropoulos, Ioannis; Rossiter, J.


I. Ieropoulos

L. D. Chambers

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B

J. Rossiter


The expense and use of non-recyclable materials often requires the retrieval and recovery of exploratory robots. Therefore, conventional materials such as plastics and metals in robotics can be limiting. For applications such as environmental monitoring, a fully biodegradable or edible robot may provide the optimum solution. Materials that provide power and actuation as well as biodegradability provide a compelling dimension to future robotic systems. To highlight the potential of novel biodegradable and edible materials as artificial muscles, the actuation of a biodegradable hydrogel was investigated. The fabricated gelatine based polymer gel was inexpensive, easy to handle, biodegradable and edible. The electro-mechanical performance was assessed using two contactless, parallel stainless steel electrodes immersed in 0.1M NaOH solution and fixed 40 mm apart with the strip actuator pinned directly between the electrodes. The actuation displacement in response to a bias voltage was measured over hydration/de-hydration cycles. Long term (11 days) and short term (1 hour) investigations demonstrated the bending behaviour of the swollen material in response to an electric field. Actuation voltage was low (55 degrees). The stability of the immersed material decreased within the first hour due to swelling, however, was recovered on de-hydrating between actuations. The controlled degradation of biodegradable and edible artificial muscles could help to drive the development of environmentally friendly robotics. © 2014 SPIE.


Ieropoulos, I., Chambers, L. D., Winfield, J., Ieropoulos, I., & Rossiter, J. (2014). Biodegradable and edible gelatine actuators for use as artificial muscles. Proceedings of SPIE, 9056, 90560B.

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Acceptance Date Mar 8, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Journal Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Print ISSN 0277-786X
Electronic ISSN 1996-756X
Publisher Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9056
Pages 90560B
Book Title Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2014
Keywords actuators, artificial muscles, electrodes, robotics, environmental monitoring, metals, polymers, robotic systems
Public URL
Publisher URL