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GRASP / MEAM Seminar: Carmel Majidi, Carnegie Mellon University, “Soft-Matter Machines & Electronics with Liquid Metal”

March 24, 2017 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


In contrast to conventional hardware that are engineered from rigid materials, soft-matter machines and electronics are primarily composed of soft polymers, gels, and fluids.  They can function as artificial skin and muscle that enable physical human-machine interaction and robots that approach the rich versatility of natural organisms.  Progress in “soft-matter engineering” requires new materials and methods of integration that achieve unique combinations of electronic, robotic, and passive mechanical functionality.  In this talk, I will review current paradigms in soft electronics and actuation and show how some of their existing limitations can be overcome with a novel class of soft materials embedded with liquid metal (LM).  Inclusions for these LM-embedded elastomer (LMEE) systems can range from microfluidic LM networks that function as highly stretchable circuits to dispersions of LM microdroplets that exhibit unique electrical and thermal properties.  I will focus special attention on the central role of solid mechanics and how existing theoretical models can be adapted to examine effective medium properties and electromechanical coupling.  I will also discuss the role of conductive elastomers and liquid-phase electronics in the broader context of wearable computing and soft robotics.  This will include highlights of recent work on tactile electronic skin sensing, mechanical rigidity-tuning, and thermal actuation with shape memory alloy.


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Carmel Majidi is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he leads the Integrated Soft Materials Lab (SML). Leveraging insights and practices from solid mechanics, microfabrication, and bio-inspired robotics, his research objective is to engineer machines and electronics that are composed entirely of condensed soft matter. Prof. Majidi is particularly interested in approaches that are practical from a rapid prototyping and robotics implementation perspective. This includes efforts to enable robust mechanical and electrical interfacing between soft-matter systems and conventional microelectronics. Prior to arriving at CMU, he did postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and Princeton Universities. Prof. Majidi received his doctoral training at UC Berkeley, where he examined natural gecko adhesion and developed a gecko-inspired shear-activated adhesive. He is the recent recipient of Young Investigator awards from DARPA, ONR, AFOSR, and NASA.


March 24, 2017
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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