Interfacial modulation of TiN nanoribbons/graphene oxide for high performance photoactuators

Significance 

Materials that can respond to changes in their surrounding environment such that some of their properties can be modified in a controllable fashion are generally called smart materials. In most cases, such changes in material properties are reversible and can be achieved by exposure to a wide range of external stimuli, such as temperature, stress, pressure, moisture, and magnetic/electric fields. By leveraging the benefits of these property changes, it is possible to engineer sensors and actuators from these materials without additional controls or electronics.

With the advances in technology and increasing need to integrate electronic devices with electromechanical devices to enhance functionality and performance, recent research has focused on designing smart materials and structures with controllable intelligent responses. A good example of such materials is the photoactuators that have drawn significant research attention owing to their prospective applications in switches, sensors, microelectronic devices, and artificial muscles. Photoactuators exhibit good flexibility, fast response, and ability to change shape and functionality in response to external stimuli. Unfortunately, their practical applications are limited by the weak interfacial contact of the bilayers.

In the race to develop photoactuators with strong interfacial interactions and improve their response performance, surface modification and interface engineering strategies have been proposed. However, previously developed approaches have failed to achieve desired results due to various limitations. For example, designing flexible actuator based on all-carbon-organic composite materials is challenging, while practical applications of non-carbon or oligo-carbon components is restricted by the limited alternative suitable solutions. Recently, using transition metal nitrides, especially titanium nitride (TiN), has been identified as a promising candidate for engineering high-performance actuators owing to their excellent mechanical stability and optical properties.

On this account, Dr. Bo Yang from Huaibei Normal University in collaboration with Dr. Le Luo and Dr. Shanshan Zhu from the University of Science and Technology of China and Dr. Fengxian Jin and Professor Sheng-Qi Guo from Hebei University of Technology investigated the interfacial modulation of TiN nanoribbons and graphene oxide for the design of high-performance photoactuators. The main aim was to overcome the weak interfacial contact of the bilayers to develop photoactuators with strong interfacial interactions. Their work is currently published in the journal, Smart Materials and Structure.

In their approach, the research team treated TiN nanoribbon surface by controlling the heating process to facilitate the formation of a uniform dispersion with graphene oxide. The uniform dispersion was convenient and thus enabled the preparation of EC film. Additionally, the interface between the passive deformation layer and photothermal conversion layers was optimized to form close chemical bonds. The actuation performance of the resulting photoactuators was evaluated and discussed.

The authors reported easy preparation of high-quality films. Results showed that under the control of light, the film’s side contact with light absorbing layer expanded rapidly. Because of the asymmetric expansion, the bilayer film exhibited improved light-induced actuation performance. As a result, the actuator exhibited agile and reversible actuation and dynamic performance. Remarkably, it only took 0.8 seconds to attain the maximum bending, which is fast compared to that of existing similar actuators.

In summary, the design of a high-performance photoactuator by controlling the topography by modulating the interface of TiN nanoribbons and GO was reported in this study. Based on the findings, the presented strategy facilitated the realization of unexpected light actuation via interface engineering. In a statement to Advances in Engineering, Dr. Bo Yang their study broaden the application prospects of the photoactuator in smart devices.

Interfacial modulation of TiN nanoribbons/graphene oxide for high performance photoactuators - Advances in Engineering

About the author

Bo Yang received his Ph.D. degree in 2019 from University of Science and Technology of China. Currently, he is an associate professor at School of Physics and Electronic Information, Huaibei Normal University. His research interests include the surface and interface of low dimensional solid materials and their applications in environmental response application.

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About the author

Sheng-Qi Guo received his Ph.D. degree in 2015 from Nankai University. Currently, he is an associate professor at School of Energy and Environmental Engineering, Hebei University of Technology. His research interests include the synthesis of functional micro/nanostructures and their applications in environmental and energy catalysis.

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Reference

Yang, B., Luo, L., Zhu, S., Jin, F., & Guo, S. (2022). Interfacial modulation of tin nanoribbons/graphene oxide for high performance photoactuators. Smart Materials and Structures, 31(10), 105023.

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