Using explosions to power a soft robot

Robert F. Shepherd, Adam A. Stokes, Jacob Freake, Jabulani Barber, Phillip W. Snyder, Aaron D. Mazzeo, Ludovico Cademartiri, Stephen A. Morin, George M. Whitesides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Combustion causes a soft robot to jump: Rapid actuation of a soft robot (composed of silicone elastomers) was achieved using high-temperature chemical reactions. Computer-controlled electrical sparks triggered the combustion of premixed CH4 and O2 gases inside the robot, which pressurized the pneumatic channels of the robot and caused it to jump (see figure). The heat from the explosions dissipated quickly and did not damage the robot even over many jumps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2892-2896
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 4 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


  • combustion
  • oxygen
  • pneumatic processes
  • soft robots


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