CORDIS - EU research results

Multimodal Sensory-Motorized Material Systems

Project description

Shape-changing polymers leading to a paradigm shift in robotics

Life-like synthetic materials will shape the future of robotics. Before this actually occurs, it is important to examine how biological sensory-motor interactions can assist in developing robotic materials. Funded by the European Research Council, the MULTIMODAL project aims to develop autonomous and interactive materials that adapt to different environments, can be trained to do specific actions, self-heal and are able to make simple decisions similar to living organisms. To do so, the project will use liquid crystal networks – polymer materials that can transform their morphology and properties in response to external stimuli. The developed materials will be used to design soft robots with autonomous and interactive properties.


MULTIMODAL will develop sensory-motorized material systems that perceive several coupled environmental stimuli and respond to a combination of these via controlled motor functions, shape-change or locomotion. The sensory-motorized materials will be “trained” to strengthen upon repetitive action, they can “heal” upon injury, and mechanically adapt to different environments. They will be utilized in the design of soft robots with autonomous and interactive functions.

We will utilize shape-changing liquid crystal networks (LCNs) that undergo controlled untethered motions in response to photochemical, (photo)thermal, and humidity-triggered activation. Coupling between these stimuli will allow for gated control strategies over the shape changes. I expect that the gated control strategies, in combination with stimuli-induced diffusion from surface to bulk of the LCN, will enable advanced robotic functionalities. The diffusion process will be used for supramolecular crosslinking and formation of interpenetrated dynamic polymer networks with the LCN, to allow for trainable gaiting for versatile locomotion control. We will also make mechanically adaptable amphibious grippers for autonomous object recognition.

Technological disruptions are often due to new materials and fabrication technologies. Paradigm changes on how materials are perceived have profound effects on our society, well-being, and the ways we see the world. Here, we strive for a paradigm change in robotic materials. By taking inspiration from biological sensory-motor interactions, we will develop MULTIMODAL materials with autonomous and interactive features. These features go far beyond the capabilities of conventional stimuli-responsive materials, allowing us to take inanimate, shape-changing materials one ambitious step closer to motor functions of living species.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 998 760,00
33100 Tampere

See on map

Manner-Suomi Länsi-Suomi Pirkanmaa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 998 760,00

Beneficiaries (1)