Inspired by the Mimosa plant’s folding response to touch, researchers have engineered a material that folds when in contact with water.
Many of us have fond childhood memories of poking the ubiquitous Mimosa pudica plant’s leaflets, then exclaiming in delight when they fold up at even the slightest touch. This spontaneous, protective motion, which is more complicated than it looks, is triggered by a cascade of reactions and pressure waves. Now, researchers from Hong Kong and Australia have drawn inspiration from the ever-so-sensitive plant to develop self-organizing soft materials that fold themselves into predetermined shapes when wet.
The study is published in the journal Science Advances.