Meet the Authors- ‘Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective’

RSC Applied Polymers has published its first articles. To celebrate this we wish to introduce some of our #RSCAppliedfirst50 authors and their recently published articles.

In this post we feature an introduction to Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective by Dr Abhijit Bandyopadhyay and Sayan Basak


An Introduction to Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective by Dr Abhijit Bandyopadhyay and Sayan Basak


Hydrogel actuators, characterized by their exceptional capacity to undergo shape deformations in reaction to external stimuli, occupy a prominent position within the domain of materials science, representing a significant potential to revolutionize numerous applications. Ranging from soft robotics to biomedical engineering, the adaptability and versatility of these actuators are widely recognized. Notably, among the array of designs, bilayer-based hydrogel actuators emerge as particularly noteworthy, demonstrating elaborate 2D and 3D shape alterations in response to various stimuli.

Central to the functionality of hydrogel actuators are polymers, which establish three-dimensional networks capable of retaining substantial quantities of water. These polymers serve as the foundation for structural integrity and responsiveness to environmental stimuli, thereby rendering hydrogel actuators biocompatible, permeable, and adaptable. By employing engineering methodologies to manipulate polymer compositions and architectures, researchers can customize desired attributes such as anisotropy. This tailored approach enhances the operational efficacy and controllability of hydrogel actuators across a spectrum of applications, spanning from drug delivery systems to advancements in soft robotics.

Our investigation delves into the detailed features of bilayer-based hydrogel actuators, elucidating their biomimetic designs derived from natural tissues and organs. We examine successful applications across domains including drug delivery, soft robotics, and biomedical engineering, demonstrating the adaptability and promise inherent in these actuators. While challenges persist in attaining precise control over bidirectional motions, recent progress indicates encouraging developments and lays the groundwork for forthcoming innovations.

Looking ahead, there remains an ongoing pursuit for multifunctional hydrogel actuators adept at responding to diverse stimuli with precision and reliability. Addressing challenges within complex environments, particularly underwater scenarios, continues to drive the exploration of innovative fabrication techniques and materials. Collaboration across disciplinary boundaries stands as a pivotal factor in unlocking the full potential of hydrogel technology, as insights drawn from materials science, robotics, and biology converge to shape the future of actuator design.

In the forthcoming years, the emergence of novel fabrication methodologies is anticipated to significantly contribute to the advancement of smart structures. One promising avenue lies in the exploration of patterned structures, inspired by the intricate designs found in nature. Certain botanical structures, for instance, exhibit intriguing shape transitions upon dehydration, and emulating such patterns could unveil new possibilities for hydrogel actuators. Photolithography emerges as a potent tool in this endeavour, facilitating the creation of hydrogel sheets featuring chemically distinct regions. This approach enables preprogramed large-scale 3D shape transitions, mirroring the intricate behaviours observed in natural systems. The introduction of visible patterns, such as those achieved through UV-reduction of graphene oxide, introduces an additional layer of complexity, endowing hydrogel actuators with multiresponsive 3D complex deformations. This expansion of capabilities enhances the versatility and potential applications of hydrogel actuators.



Dr Bandyopadhyay

Dr Bandyopadhyay


Dr Abhijit Bandyopadhyay is currently a full Professor in the Department of Polymer Science & Technology at University of Calcutta, member of the Senate and the Technical Director at South Asia Rubber and Polymers Park, West Bengal. He is the former Head of the Department and the member of the Syndicate of this University. He is a National Scholar, has received Young Scientist Award in 2005 from Material Research Society of India and Career Award for Young Teachers in 2010 from Govt. of India for his contribution in teaching and research in various domains of polymer and rubber science and technology. He has published more than 110 research papers in reputed international journals, filed two Indian patents and delivered several Plenary, Key Note and Invited lectures in International and National conferences and Faculty Development Programs. He has authored six books so far. He has done both Government and Industry sponsored research projects and offered Industrial consultancies regarding development of several products. He has supervised 12 research students so far for obtaining their Doctorate degree and 10 more are currently doing their research under his supervision. His research interest includes polymer blends and composites, polymer nanocomposites, hyperbranched polymers and polymer 3D printing.





Sayan Basak

Sayan Basak



Sayan Basak completed his B.Tech. in Polymer Science and Technology at the University of Calcutta and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Akron, USA specializing in smart polymers. His research focused on shape memory and functional elastomers, aligning with his undergraduate studies. Currently, he works as a research investigator at Biocon India, contributing to the chemical development team. He remains an active collaborator with the Bandyopadhyay group at the University of Calcutta, where he focuses on stimuli-responsive polymers, polymer nanocomposites, and biobased architectural polymers.








Next-gen biomimetic actuators: bilayer hydrogel evolution in the 21st century and its advancements from a post-2020 perspective

RSC Appl. Polym., 2024, Advance Article. DOI:10.1039/D4LP00089G






RSC Applied Polymers is a leading international journal for the application of polymers, including experimental and computational studies on both natural and synthetic systems. In this journal, you can discover cross-disciplinary scientific research that leverages polymeric materials in a range of applications. This includes high impact advances made possible with polymers across materials, biology, energy applications and beyond.