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 the Corporate Research Center and in Goodwin Hall 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 switchable and intelligent adhesives, stretchable electronics and soft robotics, and adaptive and morphing materials.

Recent News Highlights

3/2024 – Prof. Bartlett’s News & Views article At the breaking point published in Nature Physics. See the open access version.
3/2024 – New paper on Kuttsukigami: sticky sheet design published in Soft Matter and featured on the cover with Andrew Croll.
3/2024 – New paper on Topology as a limiting factor for mechanical properties in disordered networks published in Cell Reports Physical Science with Edwin Chan.
3/2024 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited virtual seminar at Meta Reality Labs.
2/2024 – Prof. Bartlett is interviewed by Nature Nanotechnology. See the story.
2/2024 – Prof. Bartlett is named to the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) as a Senior Member. See the story.
2/2024 – Aldo receives the Best Poster Award at the Adhesion Society.
2/2024 – Yeunhee, Camryn, Aldo, Ahmed, Chanhong, Ohnyoung, Ravi, Wuzhou, and Ella attend the Adhesion Society Annual Meeting and present their work.
2/2024 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar in Materials Science and Engineering at Virginia Tech.
1/2024 – New paper on Rapid and Reversible Morphing to Enable Multifunctionality in Robots published in Advanced Intelligent Systems. See the story on Advanced Science News.
1/2024 – New paper on A Flexible and Electrically Conductive Liquid Metal Adhesive for Hybrid Electronic Integration published in Advanced Functional Materials.
12/2023 – New paper on Designing liquid metal microstructures through directed material extrusion additive manufacturing published with Eric Markvicka in Additive Manufacturing.
11/2023 – New paper on Liquid metal-elastomer composites for water-resilient soft electronics published in the Journal of Polymer Science.
10/2023 – Dong Hae and Prof. Bartlett attend and present at the 2023 SES Annual Technical Meeting.
10/2023 – Chanhong Lee and John Joyce receive the Best Poster Award at the 2023 MII Technical Conference and Review.
10/2023 – New paper on A Unified Understanding of Magnetorheological Elastomers for Rapid and Extreme Stiffness Tuning published in RSC Applied Polymers.
9/2023 – Prof. Bartlett is invited and attends the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering 2023 Symposium.
9/2023 – New paper on Bioinspired Materials for Underwater Adhesion with Pathways to Switchability published in Cell Reports Physical Science with Rong Long, Bruce P. Lee, and Grace X. Gu.
8/2023 – Prof. Bartlett is named a John R. Jones III Faculty Fellow. See the story.
8/2023 – Ted Barron successful defends his PhD thesis, congratulations Dr. Barron!
8/2023 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited talk at the GRC Science of Adhesion. Chanhong and Yeunhee present posters at the GRC and GRS.
7/2023 – The lab hosts four days of outreach with BEE VT (Black Engineering Excellence). See the video.
7/2023 – New paper on Electrically Conductive Liquid Metal Composite Adhesives for Reversible Bonding of Soft Electronics published in Advanced Functional Materials.
6/2023 – New paper on Metamaterial adhesives for programmable adhesion through reverse crack propagation published in Nature Materials with Rong Long and Eric Markvicka. See the story on VT, New Scientist, Phys.org, and more. Read the Behind the paper.
6/2023 – Prof. Bartlett is promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.
5/2023 – Prof. Bartlett receives the 2023 Adhesion Society Distinguished Paper Award.
5/2023 – Tyler Pozarycki successful defends his masters thesis, congratulations Tyler!
5/2023 – Chanhong Lee receives the Best Poster Award at the ME Graduate Symposium.
4/2023 – Gwyneth Schloer successful defends her masters thesis, congratulations Gwyn!
4/2023 – Prof. Bartlett receives the Faculty Fellow award from the VT College of Engineering.
3/2023 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar at the University of Missouri in the CBE Department.
3/2023 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Physics Department.
2/2023 – Review paper on Peel tests for quantifying adhesion and toughness: A review published in Progress in Materials Science with Scott Case, Anthony Kinloch, and David Dillard.
2/2023 – Chanhong, Gwyneth, Ella, Ted, Tyler, Yeunhee, and Prof. Bartlett attend the Adhesion Society Annual Meeting and present their work.
1/2023 – Prof. Bartlett receives a NSF CAREER award. See the story and award.
1/2023 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar at the University of Pennsylvania in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department.
1/2023 – Jonathan Charleston successful defends his PhD thesis, congratulations Dr. Charleston!
11/2022 – Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar at CU Boulder in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
10/2022 – Paper on RISO: Combining Rigid Grippers with Soft Switchable Adhesives  is on the ArXiv with Losey lab.
9/2022 – Prof. Bartlett attends the SES Annual Technical Meeting and gives an invited talk on Morphing Materials and a keynote talk on Intelligent Manipulation.
9/2022 – Multiple lab members attended the Cell Press Lab Links event on Soft, Stretchable, and Liquid Materials for Future Devices hosted by NC State. Prof. Bartlett gives an invited talk.
9/2022 – Paper on X-ray scattering as an effective tool for characterizing liquid metal composite morphology  is published in Soft Matter in the Soft Robotics themed collection with Moore lab.
9/2022 –  Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar at Carnegie Mellon in the Mechanical Engineering Department.
9/2022 –  Undergraduates Austin, Chloe, Ella, and John present at the Undergraduate Research Project Showcase at Virginia Tech.
9/2022 –  Prof. Bartlett holds an outreach event with Blacksburg Middle School students on Octa-glove.
9/2022 – Paper on Tough Bonding of Liquid Metal-Elastomer Composites for Multifunctional Adhesives  is published in Small in the Rising Star collection. 
9/2022 – Paper on Peeling of finite-length elastica on Winkler foundation until complete detachment  is published in the International Journal of Solids and Structures with Plaut and Dillard labs. 
8/2022 – Our lab welcomes new graduate students Wuzhou, Yeunhee, and Ohnyoung into our group.
8/2022 –  Prof. Bartlett gives an invited seminar in the RX directorate of AFRL.
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 ScienceNew ScientistScience NewsSalonSyFy WirePopular MechanicsDiscoverDaily MailTechExplore, 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 SoundCloudSpotifyYouTubeIEEE 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 FocusSyFy WireThe IndependentDaily Beast, AZO RoboticsNew AtlasVT, 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.
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.orgTechExplore, VT, and more.
5/2021 – Prof. Bartlett receives a 2021 ONR Young Investigator (YIP) Award. Read the quick story and the extended story ‘Through 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
More news & activity on Twitter

Video Highlight

We are grateful for support from the following organizations: