friction, smart surface, shape memory polymer (SMP), remote control


Anisotropic friction generated by microstructured surfaces is crucial for performing functions such as directional locomotion and adhesion in biological systems. Hence, an epoxy-based shape memory polymer (SMP) incorporating Fe3O4 nanoparticles is used in this study to create a smart surface with oriented structures to mimic anisotropic friction and exploit human-developed controllable locomotion systems. Applying the specific properties of the epoxy-based SMP, fast switching friction can be achieved by adjusting the topography and stiffness of the microstructures on the surface. In addition, the photothermogenesis effect of Fe3O4 nanoparticles induces changes in the asymmetric topography and stiffness on the SMP surface under the irradiation of near-infrared (NIR) light, thereby inducing a rapid switching of the friction force. Furthermore, a microbot is created to demonstrate remotely controlled locomotion, such as unidirectional and round-trip movements, and braking by switching the friction force under NIR light. These results are promising for the design of new intelligent surfaces and interfaces; additionally, they may facilitate the investigation of biological structures and processes.

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