Stuttgart – Jiachen Zhang is an expert in designing smart materials and fabrication techniques to extend the design possibilities of soft magnetic miniature robots. Since April 1, 2019, the Chinese national is a member of the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart. Zhang joined the team from the University of Toronto, where he received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering last year. Since months after his start, from October 1, Zhang will be supported by a Humboldt Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers for two years.
"I am really glad to be here, working closely with Metin Sitti," says Zhang. Sitti heads the Physical Intelligence Department, which he founded in 2014 at the Stuttgart site of the MPI-IS.
"Jiachen is a top researcher from the University of Toronto to join our soft milli/microrobotics team and I am sure that he will have many a high impact research outcome on new tiny soft machines for medical use during his stay," says Sitti.
Zhang’s research focuses on the design, modelling, and control of soft magnetic miniature robots. The body magnetization profiles of the robots are programmed to enable them to perform various tasks, such as micro-object manipulation and transportation. Without rigid joints, the soft miniature robots exhibit behaviors that their traditional rigid counterparts cannot achieve. “Such robots promise great potential in tasks such as minimally invasive diagnostics and therapeutics,” he explains and elaborates further, “I am working on designing smart materials and fabrication techniques to extend the design possibilities of such tiny soft robots. Existing miniature robots are still limited in their functionalities. To achieve multiple functionalities on a single device requires additional stimuli or sophisticated control algorithms. I am exploring the strategies to overcome these limitations with the use of custom-designed smart materials and advanced fabrication approaches. In other words, I aim to enrich the “physical intelligence” of soft magnetic miniature robots.”
Each year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants approximately 500 fellowships to postdoctoral researchers of all nationalities and disciplines from abroad. They must have above average qualifications, be at the beginning of their academic career and have only completed their doctorate in the past four years. A Humboldt Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers allows the awardee to carry out long-term research of six months to two years in Germany. Applicants choose their own topic of research and their academic host.
Find out more about the Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship here.