A unified understanding of magnetorheological elastomers for rapid and extreme stiffness tuning

Magnetorheological elastomers (MREs), which adapt their mechanical properties in response to a magnetic field, can enable changes in stiffness and shape for applications ranging from vibration isolators to shape morphing robots and soft adaptive grippers. Here, a unified design approach is introduced to create MRE materials for extreme stiffness tuning, up to 70×, with rapid (∼20 ms) and reversible shape change. This guides the creation of a hybrid MRE composite architecture that incorporates a combination of magnetic particles and magnetic fluids into elastomers. The role of both solid and fluid inclusions on magnetorheological response is systematically investigated and a predictive model is developed that captures the stiffness tuning response of MREs across diverse material microstructures and compositions. This general understanding enables MRE materials with programmable response and greatly enhanced stiffness tuning and rapid response times compared to many MRE, granular jamming, and phase change approaches. This insight is utilized to optimize composites for a soft adaptive gripper which grasps and releases objects of diverse geometries.
This article was originally published in RSC Applied Polymers. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1039/D3LP00109A. © 2023 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Barron Iii, Edward J., Ella T. Williams, Ravi Tutika, Nathan Lazarus, and Michael D. Bartlett. “A Unified Understanding of Magnetorheological Elastomers for Rapid and Extreme Stiffness Tuning.” RSC Applied Polymers 1, no. 2 (2023): 315–24. https://doi.org/10.1039/D3LP00109A.