Soft-Matter Engineering for Robotics and Wearables

Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm

Abstract: Progress in soft lithography and soft materials integration have led to extraordinary new classes of soft-matter sensors, circuits, and transducers. These material technologies are composed almost entirely out of soft matter – elastomers, gels, and conductive fluids like eutectic gallium-indium (EGaIn) – and represent the building blocks for machines and electronics that are soft, flexible, and stretchable. Because of their intrinsic compliance and elasticity, such devices can be incorporated into soft, biologically-inspired robots or be worn on the body and operate continuously without impairing natural body motion. In this talk, I will review recent contributions from my research group in creating soft multifunctional materials for wearable electronics and soft robotics using these emerging practices in “soft-matter engineering.” In particular, I will focus on elastomer composites and microfluidic EGaIn architectures for highly stretchable digital electronics, wearable energy harvesting, and electrically-responsive actuation. When possible, I will relate the design and operation of these soft-matter technologies to underlying principles of soft matter physics and practices in controls and machine. In addition to presenting my own research in the field, I will also briefly review broader efforts and emerging challenges in utilizing soft electronic materials for applications in wearable electronics and soft robotics.

Bio: Carmel Majidi is the Clarence H. Adamson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he leads the Soft Machines Lab. His lab is dedicated to the discovery of novel material architectures that allow machines and electronics to be soft, elastically deformable, and biomechanically compatible. Currently, his research is focused on fluid-filled elastomers that exhibit unique combinations of mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties and can function as “artificial” skin, nervous tissue, and muscle for soft robotics and wearables. Carmel has received grants from industry and federal agencies along with early career awards from DARPA, ONR, AFOSR, and NASA to explore challenges in soft-matter engineering and robotics. Prior to arriving at CMU, Prof. Majidi had postdoctoral appointments at Harvard and Princeton Universities and received his PhD in Electrical Engineering at UC Berkeley.

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