Exciting news! In May, I will start the Soft Robotic Matter research group at AMOLF in Amsterdam. The Soft Robotic Matter group will be part of the Designer Matter program and will focus on the exploration of active and sensing elements to implement feedback capabilities and computation in soft architected materials. This line of research uniquely combines concepts from soft robotics and architected materials, and provides new and exciting opportunities in the design of compliant structures and devices with highly non-linear behavior.
My aim is to uncover principles that help us understand how non-linearity and feedback can result in the emergence of complex – but useful – behavior in soft actuated systems. To this end, I employ a combination of numerical simulations, analytics and experiments to design and analyze a set of toy problems at the macroscale, with the ultimate goal to design and fabricate materials that are capable of autonomously adapting to – and even harnessing – variations in their environment.
This research will therefore open avenues for the next generation of smart adaptive structures and devices with improved and new functionality. Applications include autonomous soft materials that detect and repair damage on other surfaces, cell scaffolds that adapt their elasticity in response to cellular traction forces to direct cell growth, and mechanical, acoustic or photonic cloaks that adapt autonomously to differently shaped objects.
Such a great opportunity – so many ideas – I can’t wait to get started!