Engineers have made the web, which reproduces the functions of trapping spider web using electrostatic effects. During the tests it was able to be purified from dust, to detect the approach of the goals, grab them and let go. According to the authors, in the future, these technologies may find application in soft robotics. Work published in Science is Robotics.
Soft robotics is based on the use of soft (i.e., easily deformable) materials — this feature gives the robots the flexibility, easy adaptation to different tasks (from modeling of the water creatures before the surgery) and improves the security of interaction with people.
However, the device of soft materials to effectively cope with their work, it is necessary to create a single robotic system from many individual components, whose functions complement each other — this requirement may lead to technical difficulties. In such situations, scientists often borrow ideas from the environment (e.g., observing the motion of living organisms) — that allows researchers to develop a robotic system as a whole, and to build its analogy with natural, copying and reproducing the necessary features.
Scientists from South Korea under the leadership Janghun Lee (Lee Younghoon) and Won Jun song (Won Jun Song) from Seoul University have created and tested a synthetic silk — a device that works like trapping a spider’s web. For this purpose, the authors used a thread from organogel in a silicone shell gel included free lithium ions (Li+) and chlorine (Cl-) — that is, possessed ionic conductivity, and silicone coating maintained its shape and prevent pollution. Recreating the structure of the web (and together with its mechanical properties), the researchers secured a spiral of pairs of parallel threads on a nylon frame with cyanoacrylate glue.