A soliton is a solitary wave that propagates without deforming in a non-linear and dispersive medium. It was the Scotsman John Scott Russell who first described this phenomenon when he saw a wave rolling along a canal over a long distance without diminishing.
The soliton is considered be to an exotic particle composed of an electron surrounded by photons. According to a recent study, like atoms, the soliton electron can have different energy levels. Its deforming effect on polymer chains makes it a good candidate for working the organic muscles of the robots of the future.
A solitary wave (in red and blue) travelling along a chain of polymers has the effect of bending it.
(Courtesy of Ohio State University)