A soft buckling linear actuator is described, including: a plurality of substantially parallel bucklable, elastic structural components each having its longest dimension along a first axis; and a plurality of secondary structural components each disposed between and bridging two adjacent bucklable, elastic structural components; wherein every two adjacent bucklable, elastic structural components and the secondary structural components in-between define a layer comprising a plurality of cells each capable of being connected with a fluid inflation or deflation source; the secondary structural components from two adjacent layers are not aligned along a second axis perpendicular to the first axis; and the secondary structural components are configured not to buckle, the bucklable, elastic structural components are configured to buckle along the second axis to generate a linear force, upon the inflation or deflation of the cells. Methods of actuation using the same are also described.
GOVERNMENT FUNDING CLAUSE
 This invention was made with support from the United States government under Grant No. DMR-0820484 awarded by the National Science Foundation, and Grant No. Del.-SC0000989 awarded by the Department of Energy. The United States government has certain rights to this invention.