Center for Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Materials

Seminar Schedule - Spring 2017

Home > Seminars > 2017.04.25

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
Place: WRW 102

A soft future: From sensor skin and robots to energy harvesters

Siegfried Bauer, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Scientists are exploring elastic and soft forms of electronic skin, soft robots and energy harvesters, dreaming to mimic nature and to enable novel applications in wide ranging fields, from consumer and mobile appliances to biomedical systems, sports and healthcare. Antagonistic materials with a wide range of mechanical, physical and chemical properties are employed, from liquids and gels to organic and inorganic solids. Combining such a diversity of materials into unctionalities never seen before, is an ideal playground for research in mechanics. In the presentation I will first introduce latest research examples in sensor skin development and discuss ultra-flexible electronic circuits, light emitting diodes and solar cells as examples. Additional functionalities of sensor skin, such as visual sensors inspired by animal eyes, camouflage, self-cleaning and healing and on-skin energy storage and generation are briefly reviewed. I will then proceed to discuss soft robots which allow actuation with distributed degrees of freedom. We show that different actuation mechanisms lead to similar actuators, capable of complex and smooth movements in 3d space. Drawing inspiration from well known mechanical instabilities, such as snap-buckling and snap-through transitions can be harnessed to achieve high speed, large stroke soft actuators. Finally, I will discuss a paradigm change in energy harvesting, away from hard energy generators to soft ones based on dielectric elastomers. Such systems are shown to work with high energy of conversion, making them potentially interesting for harvesting mechanical energy from human gait, winds and ocean waves. All of the examples chosen demonstrate the importance of research that highlights the role of mechanics in multi-disciplinary areas across materials science, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and engineering.

For further information please contact Dr. Nanshu Lu at Lu or (512) 471-4208.

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