Sci Adv. 2023 Aug 25;9(34):eadh9962. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adh9962. Epub 2023 Aug 25.
Developing soft robots that can control their own life cycle and degrade on-demand while maintaining hyperelasticity is a notable research challenge. On-demand degradable soft robots, which conserve their original functionality during operation and rapidly degrade under specific external stimulation, present the opportunity to self-direct the disappearance of temporary robots. This study proposes soft robots and materials that exhibit excellent mechanical stretchability and can degrade under ultraviolet light by mixing a fluoride-generating diphenyliodonium hexafluorophosphate with a silicone resin. Spectroscopic analysis revealed the mechanism of Si─O─Si backbone cleavage using fluoride ion (F-) and thermal analysis indicated accelerated decomposition at elevated temperatures. In addition, we demonstrated a robotics application by fabricating electronics integrated gaiting robot and a fully closed-loop trigger disintegration robot for autonomous, application-oriented functionalities. This study provides a simple yet novel strategy for designing life cycle mimicking soft robotics that can be applied to reduce soft robotics waste, explore hazardous areas, and ensure hardware security with on-demand destructive material platforms.