Functional autonomous moving materials: a mechanochemical approach


Living matter has intriguing properties that are inspiring to the development of functional materials. Autonomous periodic movements in natural systems are driven by the interplay between chemical reactions and mechanical motion. Applying the underlying concepts into bio-inspired materials will narrow the gap between living and artificial materials. Furthermore, self-oscillating materials provide new pathways to convert chemical energy into work and thereby open new possibilities towards e.g. microfluidics in biomedical devices.

This project aims to develop via a novel approach autonomous oscillating materials controlled by mechanochemical feedback. The different approaches proposed all involve a system in which (a) the swelling of a material causes a catalyst to reach the fuel; (b) the catalyst converts fuel into stimulus; (c) the stimulus affects the swelling of the material. By manipulating the feedback between mechanical motion and chemical reactions, all dynamic processes within the out-of-equilibrium system can be orchestrated into a periodic, pumping movement of the material. The modular approach allows modifying both the chemistry as well as the mechanics involved, which provides a lot of freedom to design the system. Furthermore, a model-driven strategy will be introduced that allows identifying the critical parameters in order to optimize the autonomous motion.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. ir. P.A. Korevaar

Affiliated with

Team members

Dr. ir. P.A. Korevaar


01/06/2014 to 31/05/2016