While most electronics are highly rigid, built on substrates such as brittle silicon wafers, biology (i.e. humans) tends to be soft and stretchable. The emerging field of stretchable electronics aims to create sensor and actuation systems with embedded electronics that can be worn directly on or in the human body. One of the biggest challenges in stretchable electronics has been interacting with the external world, and a major area of research for me has been developing high performing stretchable wireless power system to avoid the need for attached wiring easily destroyed or damaged during stretching.
Incorporating softer, biofriendly materials into robotics has opened up new applications ranging from medicine to agriculture. Most soft robotics have relied on pneumatic actuation, requiring heavy and rigid pumps for driving pressure chambers that have become a major limitation for fully soft, untethered robots. Our group has specialized in using soft electromagnetics to develop soft and stretchable pumps, valves and actuators for the creation of the next generation of soft robots.
3D Printed Electronics
Additive manufacturing, building objects layer by layer, is a powerful technique for rapid prototyping and manufacture of custom parts. The next frontier in 3D printing is the integration of sensors and other electronics. A major research thrust in my group has been investigating methods to print high performance inductors and other power systems. We have demonstrated promising techniques for metallization (selective electroplating and room temperature liquid metals) and integration of magnetic materials such as ferrofluids.
Laser Cutter Origami
Laser cutters are a common machining tool found through machine shops and makerspaces across the country. Using origami inspired principles, I recently demonstrated the use of a simple laser cutter to quickly generate complex 3D structures. One of the primary research thrusts of our group is in building on this approach, looking at new avenues for creating metal origami.
My Ph.D. work at Carnegie Mellon with Prof. Gary Fedder focused on the creation of a high performance chemical sensor system integrated with measurement electronics. I worked extensively on both circuit and chemical sensor design focusing on the creation of high sensitivity CMOS-MEMS capacitive humidity sensors intended to compensate for humidity variation on the behavior of other integrated chemical sensors.