Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, National Acad Sciences, 2020 (article)
Untethered synthetic microrobots have significant potential to revolutionize minimally invasive medical interventions in the future. However, their relatively slow speed and low controllability near surfaces typically are some of the barriers standing in the way of their medical applications. Here, we introduce acoustically powered microrobots with a fast, unidirectional surface-slipping locomotion on both flat and curved surfaces. The proposed three-dimensionally printed, bullet-shaped microrobot contains a spherical air bubble trapped inside its internal body cavity, where the bubble is resonated using acoustic waves. The net fluidic flow due to the bubble oscillation orients the microrobot's axisymmetric axis perpendicular to the wall and then propels it laterally at very high speeds (up to 90 body lengths per second with a body length of 25 µm) while inducing an attractive force toward the wall. To achieve unidirectional locomotion, a small fin is added to the microrobot’s cylindrical body surface, which biases the propulsion direction. For motion direction control, the microrobots are coated anisotropically with a soft magnetic nanofilm layer, allowing steering under a uniform magnetic field. Finally, surface locomotion capability of the microrobots is demonstrated inside a three-dimensional circular cross-sectional microchannel under acoustic actuation. Overall, the combination of acoustic powering and magnetic steering can be effectively utilized to actuate and navigate these microrobots in confined and hard-to-reach body location areas in a minimally invasive fashion.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, National Acad Sciences, 2020 (article)
Untethered dynamic shape programming and control of soft materials have significant applications in technologies such as soft robots, medical devices, organ-on-a-chip, and optical devices. Here, we present a solution to remotely actuate and move soft materials underwater in a fast, efficient, and controlled manner using photoresponsive liquid crystal gels (LCGs). LCG constructs with engineered molecular alignment show a low and sharp phase-transition temperature and experience considerable density reduction by light exposure, thereby allowing rapid and reversible shape changes. We demonstrate different modes of underwater locomotion, such as crawling, walking, jumping, and swimming, by localized and time-varying illumination of LCGs. The diverse locomotion modes of smart LCGs can provide a new toolbox for designing efficient light-fueled soft robots in fluid-immersed media.
Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, 29(10):2192–2205, March 2018 (article)
Laminated composite panels are extensively used in various engineering applications. Piezoelectric transducers can be integrated into such composite structures for a variety of vibration control and energy harvesting applications. Analyzing the structural dynamics of such electromechanical systems requires precise modeling tools which properly consider the coupling between the piezoelectric elements and the laminates. Although previous analytical models in the literature cover vibration analysis of laminated composite plates with fully covered piezoelectric layers, they do not provide a formulation for modeling the piezoelectric patches that partially cover the plate surface. In this study, a methodology for vibration analysis of laminated composite plates with surface-bonded piezo-patches is developed. Rayleigh–Ritz method is used for solving the modal analysis and obtaining the frequency response functions. The developed model includes mass and stiffness contribution of the piezo-patches as well as the two-way electromechanical coupling effect. Moreover, an accelerated method is developed for reducing the computation time of the modal analysis solution. For validations, system-level finite element simulations are performed in ANSYS software. The results show that the developed analytical model can be utilized for accurate and efficient analysis and design of laminated composite plates with surface-bonded piezo-patches.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems