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MEAM Seminar: “Multifunctional Soft Materials for Electronics, Robots, and Adhesives”

January 17, 2023 at 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Multifunctional soft materials and interfaces create intriguing new opportunities to enhance performance through programmable and adaptable properties. I will discuss: 1) Novel material architectures of solid-liquid soft composites for electronics, 2) Switchable and programmable materials for adhesion control, and 3) Morphing materials for soft robotics. For soft composites, I will show how liquid metal droplets incorporated into elastomers enables exceptional combinations of soft elasticity and electrical and thermal properties for self-healing and recyclable circuits. For adhesives, I will discuss how we couple switchable, octopus-inspired adhesives with embedded sensing, processing, and control for robust underwater manipulation. This enables a wearable glove where an array of adhesives and sensors creates a biomimetic adhesive skin to manipulate diverse underwater objects. Metamaterial adhesives are also created that exhibit strong and reversible adhesion with spatially selective adhesion strength through programmed cut architectures in adhesive films. These properties are achieved by using cuts to trap adhesive cracks at predetermined locations and then forcing the crack to reverse direction and propagate backwards to separate. By combining active materials with programmed geometry, I will then introduce multifunctional morphing materials with reversible, rapid, and lockable polymorphic reconfigurability. By integrating these materials with onboard control, motors, and power, we can create a soft robotic morphing drone which autonomously transforms from a ground to air vehicle for multiple locomotion modes. These approaches provide model systems to study fundamental material properties while enabling electronic skins, soft robots, and advanced adhesives for a variety of soft matter systems.

Michael Bartlett

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

Michael Bartlett is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on soft multifunctional materials for deformable electronics and soft robotics, adaptive materials, and switchable and intelligent adhesives. He received his BSE in Materials Science and Engineering from Michigan in 2008 and Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering from UMass Amherst in 2013. After obtaining his Ph.D. he worked as a Senior Research Engineer in the Corporate Research Laboratory at 3M, as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, and was an Assistant Professor at Iowa State University before joining Virginia Tech in 2020. His research has resulted in publications, patents, media coverage, and awards including a NSF CAREER award, a DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) and Director’s Fellowship, a ONR Young Investigator (YIP) Award, the Early Career Scientist Award from the Adhesion Society, a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, a ICTAS Junior Faculty Award, and an Outstanding Faculty Award (student nominated). More at: www.bartlett.me.vt.edu


January 17, 2023
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
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Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
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Wu and Chen Auditorium (Room 101), Levine Hall
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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