Our research group is located in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. We foster an interdisciplinary research environment where scientists and engineers explore fundamental and applied aspects of soft materials. The Soft Materials and Structures Lab is located in Goodwin Hall and the Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Research Focus

Our research lies at the intersection of soft materials, mechanics, and functionality.   Through precise experiments and analyses, we study and exploit the fascinating interplay between material composition, geometry, and programmed deformations.  This interdisciplinary and biomimetic approach aims to create advanced, multifunctional materials with novel combinations of mechanical and functional properties, including ‘smart’ adhesives, stretchable electronics and soft robotics, and adaptive materials.

Recent News Highlights

8/2022 – Our lab receives support from the NSF Foundational Research in Robotics (FRR) program. This is a collaborative research project with Prof. Dylan Losey (VT)  to study how to unify rigid and soft grippers for assistive eating.
7/2022 – Prof. Bartlett was a guest on Science Friday discussing Octa-glove, our octopus-inspired underwater adhesive skin, from our Science Advances paper.
7/2022 Paper on Octopus-inspired adhesive skins for intelligent and rapidly switchable underwater adhesion  is published in Science Advances  and featured on the cover. See the story on Popular Science, New ScientistScience News, Salon, SyFy Wire, Popular Mechanics, Discover, Daily Mail, TechExplore, and more. See the summary video.
7/2022 – Prof. Bartlett participates in C-Tech^2 for rising junior and senior high school young women.
6/2022 –  Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar at NIST.
6/2022 – Our lab welcomes new Post-Doctoral Scholar Dong Hae Ho into our group.
5/2022 – Ted Barron receives First Prize in the RoboSoft 2022 – Soft Aerial Robotics Workshop poster session.
5/2022 – Gwyn Schloer receives the Outstanding ME Senior Award. See the story and video.
5/2022 – Prof. Bartlett attends MRS S 22, presents on Morphing Materials and Self-healing electronics, and chairs a session on Robotic Materials.
5/2022 – Prof. Bartlett receives the Outstanding New Assistant Professor Award from the College of Engineering.
4/2022 – Brittan Wilcox and Tyler Pozarycki receive the Best Poster Award at the ME Graduate Symposium.
4/2022 – Prof. Bartlett was a guest on the Soft Robotics Podcast discussing shape morphing materials from our Science Robotics paper. Listen to the conversation on SoundCloudSpotify, YouTube, IEEE RAS Page, and other podcast services.
3/2022 Paper on On Demand Programming of Liquid Metal-Composite Microstructures Through Direct Ink Write 3D Printing is published in Advanced Materials with Markvicka Lab.
3/2022 – Ted Barron receives the Best Poster Award at the MII Technical Conference.
2/2022 Paper on Shape morphing mechanical metamaterials through reversible plasticity  is published in Science Robotics. See the story on IEEE SpectrumBBC Science Focus, SyFy Wire, The Independent, Daily Beast, AZO Robotics, New Atlas, VT, and more. See the summary video.
12/2021 – Dohgyu Hwang successfully defends his PhD! He will start at Dow this spring.
12/2021 Paper on Graded Kirigami Composites for Programmed Strain Distributions  is published in Advanced Materials Technologies.
11/2021 – Prof. Bartlett gives a seminar in the Galileo learning community in Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) at VT.
10/2021 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited talk in the Smart Materials and Intelligent Systems Seminar on morphing robots and electronics.
9/2021 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited talk in the Virtual Adhesion Science Gathering on switchable adhesives.
8/2021 – Our lab welcomes new graduate students Brittan Wilcox, Chanhong Lee, and Tyler Pozarycki into our group.
7/2021 – Our lab receives support from the NSF Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program. This is a collaborative research project with Prof. Bruce Lee (MT), Prof. Grace Gu (Berkeley), and Prof. Rong Long (UC Boulder) to study switchable underwater adhesion.
7/2021 – Our lab receives support from the NSF Advanced Manufacturing (AM) program. This is a collaborative research project with Prof. Eric Markvicka (UNL)  to study additive manufacturing of functional emulsions.
6/2021 –  Paper on Self-healing liquid metal composite for reconfigurable and recyclable soft electronics  is published in Communications Materials. See the story on Physics WorldBBC Science FocusPhys.org, TechExplore, VT, and more.
6/2021 –  Paper on Cancer Cell Migration in Collagen-hyaluronan Composite Extracellular Matrices with Schneider Lab is published in Acta Biomaterialia.
5/2021 – Prof. Bartlett receives a 2021 ONR Young Investigator (YIP) Award. Read the quick story and the extended storyThrough the eyes of underwater creatures‘.
3/2021 – Prof. Bartlett receives the ICTAS Junior Faculty Award. VT news story.
2/2021 –  Prof. Bartlett’s News & Views article Liquid assets for soft electronics published in Nature Materials
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We are grateful for support from the following organizations: