Electrically induced linear locomotion of polymer gel in air

Songmiao Liang, Jian Xu, Lihui Weng, Lina Zhang, Xinglin Guo, Xiaoli Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A electromechanical gel, which could be driven in air by a DC electric field, was developed using poly(vinyl alcohol)/dimethylsulfoxide gel. When the applied electric field exceeds a certain threshold, the gel exhibited a continuous and linear crawling motion. The result indicated that, under the applied electric field of 275 V/mm, the maximum crawling velocity of the gel could reach ν = 1.63 mm/s, which is about 80 times larger than that reported in earlier works. At a proper range of the driving time, the average crawling speed and crawling direction could be well controlled by the external electric field. Furthermore, some factors, which have influence on the critical driving electric field of the gel, such as the swelling degree of the gel and the apparent contact area between the gel and substrate, were studied. For the first time, a mechanism based on the strong electrostatic interaction between the external electric field and the charges accumulated in the gel-air and substrate-gel interfacial regions was put forward to explain the novel motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1197
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2007


  • Biomimetic
  • Charge transfer
  • Dimethylsulfoxide
  • Electric field
  • Gel
  • Motion
  • Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)
  • Stimuli-sensitive polymers


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