Personal tools

Bio-inspired autonomous devices for movements and stress generation

Member of the SPP1420 from 2009 till 2015


Plants adapt the geometry of their organs as well as tissue properties to cope with external and internal stresses and to actuate organ movement. In the previous project we analyzed the hierarchical structuring and the deformation mechanisms due to moisture changes in specific cells of the capsules of stone plants (Aizoaceae). These actuating movements function without any active metabolism; they are humiditybased systems with a swellable material acting against a stiff cell wall. While large deformations can be realized based on the movement of this honeycomb structure, the generated forces are relatively low. Within the prolongation project we will investigate a similar structure but with a higher stress generation capacity. In papaya shoots as a model, stiff phloem fibers again form a structure similar to a lattice grade filled with parenchyma, that is assumed to act as a force generator stabilizing or propping up stems and lateral branches (“Zugbast”). Here small deformations are observed that presumably generate large forces. By comparison of both systems, capsules of stone plants and force generating phloem fibers we aim at developing demonstrators for two biomimetic actuating systems exhibiting the above mentioned properties. To achieve this goal, materials will be developed based on cellulose fibres and fibrils coated with responsive polymers as proof of principle demonstrators.




  • Harrington MJ, Razghandi K, Ditsch F, Guiducci L, Rueggeberg M, Dunlop JWC, Fratzl P, Neinhuis C, Burgert I. (2011) Origami-like unfolding of hydro-actuated ice plant seed capsules. Nature Commun. 2: 337 doi:10.1038/ncomms1336
  • P. Höhne, K. Tauer K (2014) “How much weighs the swelling pressure” Colloid Polym Sci 292 (11):2983-2992. doi:DOI 10.1007/s00396-014-3347-0
  • P. Höhne, K. Tauer K (2015) “Studies on swelling of wood with water and ionic liquids” Wood Science and Technology (WSAT) under review
  • Razghandi, K., Bertinetti, L., Guiducci, L., Dunlop, J.W.C., Fratzl, P., Neinhuis, C., Burgert, I. (2014) Hydro-actuation of ice plant seed capsules powered by water uptake. Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials. 3: 169–182.
  • Kempe A., Lautenschläger T., Neinhuis C. (2014) Reorientation in tilted stems of papaya by differential growth. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 175(5): 537-543.
  • Kempe A., Göhre A., Lautenschläger T., Rudolf A., Eder M., Neinhuis C. (2015) Evaluation of bast fibres of the stem of Carica papaya L. for application as reinforcing material in Green Composites. Annual Research & Review in Biology, 6(4): 245-252.


Proceedings and Book Chapters

  • Razghandi, K., Turcaud, S., Burgert, I. (2015) Hydro-actuated plant devices. In: Nonlinear Elasticity and Hysteresis: Fluid-Solid Coupling in Porous Media, First Edition (eds: AH Kim, RA Guyer) Wiley-VCH, pp. 171-200.





Sponsors and Hoster