At small scales, shape-programmable magnetic materials have significant potential to achieve mechanical functionalities that are unattainable by traditional miniature machines. Unfortunately, these materials have only been programmed for a small number of specific applications, as previous work can only rely on human intuition to approximate the required magnetization profile and actuating magnetic fields for such materials. Here, we propose a universal programming methodology that can automatically generate the desired magnetization profile and actuating fields for soft materials to achieve desired time varying shapes. The universality of the proposed method can therefore enable other researchers to fully capitalize the potential of shape-programming technologies, allowing them to create a wide range of novel soft active surfaces and devices that are critical in robotics, material science, and medicine.
This research has attracted substantial attention from international media.