In this preliminary study, we report the mechanical and dielectric properties of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-ferritin hydrogel. This material was found to exhibit close resemblance to Aurelia aurita (jellyfish) mesoglea in terms of stiffness modulus and water content. Systematic experiments were conducted on natural jellyfish to identify its compression modulus a function of deformation. In compressive testing Aurelia aurita mesoglea was found to exhibit nonlinear modulus in the range of -10 kPa to 70 kPa depending upon the compressive strain (0-50% strain). The negative stiffness is an artifact of tensile force experienced by the specimen at the beginning of the test due to surface tension. PVA hydrogels with 60% water to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) ratio without ferritin particle (H60) and PVA hydrogels with 80% water to DMSO ratio with ferritin particle (F80) provided a good alternative to natural jellyfish mesoglea exhibiting shear modulus of 33.06 Pa and 39.99 Pa respectively as compared to 4.75 Pa for Aurelia aurita mesoglea. This is a significantly better match compared to the 1041.67 Pa shear modulus of Ecoflex, a soft polymer material commonly used in biomimetic robotics. A Mooney Rivlin model suggests that H60 and F80 compositions are about 6.9 times and 8.4 times stiffer than natural Aurelia aurtia mesoglea whereas Ecoflex is 219 times as stiff. Nanocomposite hydrogel consisting of PVA matrix and ferritin nanoparticles were found to exhibit higher durability over regular PVA hydrogels and had more consistent properties due to increased cross-linking at ferritin nanoparticle sites. The ferritin nanoparticles were found to act as springs, increasing the modulus by increasing the surface area of the cross-linked polymer chains and disrupting long linear chain patterns of the polymer. Natural Aurelia aurita was found to have water content of 96.3% with a standard deviation of 0.57% as compared to 85% water content of PVA-ferritin hydrogels. Use of this material in the design of biomimetic unmanned underwater vehicles is expected to reduce the power consumption, increase swimming efficiency, and better replicate the rowing kinematics of naturally occurring Aurelia aurita.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Ceramics and Composites
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Materials Chemistry