Soft-Matter Electronics, Multifunctional Materials, and Fabrication Methods for Soft Robots

Carmel Majidi
Carnegie Mellon University
Thursday, January 23, 2014
North Carolina State University, EB1 Room 3018 | 4:30pm

In contrast to conventional machines and electronics, which are typically made out of rigid materials, “soft-matter” technologies are composed almost entirely of soft polymers, gels, and fluids. These include soft-microfluidic electronics, pnuematic actuators, and rigidity-tunable composites that can be designed to exhibit the same intrinsic elasticity and rheology of soft biological matter. Such technologies have the potential to improve biomechanical compatibility and safety in medical robotics, wearable computing, and other applications that depend on human-machine interaction. In this talk, I will present recent efforts by my research group, the Soft Machines Lab, to advance the nascent field of soft-matter engineering with new designs, theories, and fabrication methods. My talk will primarily focus on (a) soft microfluidic electronics with liquid-phase Gallium-Indium alloys and (b) soft lithography for low cost manufacturing. I will emphasize the central role of solid mechanics in design and show how classical solutions can be used to predict soft-matter functionality. This includes the influence of elastic deformations and surface traction (pressure and friction) on the electrical resistance and capacitance of GaIn circuits.