Robotic Locomotion and Piezo1 Activity Controlled with Novel Liquid Marble-based Soft Actuators

Jasmine C. Gomez, Nicholas S. Vishnosky, Spencer T. Kim, Steluta A. Dinca, Eric B. Finkelstein, Rachel C. Steinhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A novel soft actuator is designed, fabricated, and optimized for applied use in soft robotics and biomedical applications. The soft actuator is powered by the expansion and contraction of a graphene-containing and encased liquid marble using the photothermal effect. Unfortunately, conventional liquid marbles are found to be too fragile and prone to cracking and failure for such applications. After experimentation, it is possible to remedy this problem by synthesizing liquid marbles encased with polymeric shells–polymerized in situ–for added mechanical strength and robustness. These marbles are shown to have intrinsic photothermal activity. They are then situated in bimorph-type soft actuators where one side of the actuator has a dramatically different Young's modulus than the other, leading to directional actuation which is successfully demonstrated in multistep walking soft robots. The soft actuators are shown to successfully activate the mechanosensitive Piezo protein in a transfected human cell line with high effectiveness and no toxicity. Overall, the liquid marble-powered soft actuators described here represent a new soft actuation methodology and a novel tool for mechanobiological studies, such as stem cell fate and organoid differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2214893
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 12 2023


  • liquid marbles
  • mechanobiology
  • piezo proteins
  • soft actuators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Chemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Robotic Locomotion and Piezo1 Activity Controlled with Novel Liquid Marble-based Soft Actuators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this