Researchers have managed to create a sort of ‘robot’ that can move without requiring a power source, instead gaining its mobility skills via increased humidity levels. This was accomplished using a sheet of graphene oxide cut into a vaguely insect-like shape, including four legs. After exposing the graphene oxide sheet to a flash of bright light, researchers found that it will ‘bend’ when the air around it experiences a large humidity increase.
The movements of this ‘robot’ were demonstrated in a short video, which you can view here. By moving a source of moisture close to the insect-shaped cutout, the sheet would flex upward, then relax again when the moisture source was removed. Repeating this process caused it to slowly inch its way down a line via repeated flexing and relaxing.
Though there’s no particular usage scenario for a small spider-shaped sheet that curls when close to water, there are big potential uses for such a material when properly utilized by the robotics and automation industries. By utilizing the material alongside more precisely channeled humidity, robotic systems can be moisture-driven to perform basic actions including moving and capturing items.
Though the movements shown in the video are very simplistic, researchers are working on creating more complex movements based on the moisture response of treated graphene. The entire process of ‘treating’ a graphene oxide sheet is fast and cheap, requiring, in this case, an ordinary camera flash. The number of light flashes and distance used can help adjust the sheet’s responsiveness to moisture, among other things.