Research

Overview

The Soft Materials and Structures Lab is focused on studying and developing soft materials with extraordinary combinations of mechanical and functional properties. This includes electronics and machines that can be stretched, bent, and even cut while remaining completely functional, smart adhesives that release on demand, and materials that sense and adapt their properties and structure to optimize performance. We achieve this through multifunctional materials, combining advanced functional properties with reconfigurable, programmable, and self-healing soft material response.

MULTIFUNCTIONAL SOFT MATTER MATERIALS

We integrate elastomers and gels with functional components from fluids to fibers and films to create programmable and reconfigurable materials. Liquid metal (eutectic gallium indium (EGaIn)) droplets dispersed in elastomers enable exceptional combinations of soft elasticity and electrical and thermal properties and extreme toughness, autonomously self-healing electrical circuits, and mechanically triggered stiffness tuning in soft materials.

MATERIALS BY DESIGN

We design material meso-structure to generate macroscopic responses that are not ordinarily obtained in bulk materials. This includes kirigami-inspired materials with designed cut architectures to create highly tunable mechanical stiffness and extensibility and controllable and anisotropic adhesive response.

Switchable Adhesives

We create adhesives that can be strong in one state yet rapidly switch to be removed easily. This is achieved by incorporating active materials and controlled structures into adhesive materials. We aim to study fundamental aspects of crack initiation, propagation, and trapping to enable applications that require strong, yet easy release adhesion in manufacturing, health, and robotics.

ADAPTIVE MATERIALS AND STRUCTURES

We merge principles in stretchable electronics, active materials, and soft robotics to design, fabricate, and evaluate intelligent adaptive materials. This includes soft materials that detect damage and can transform from a soft to rigid material through solidification of undercooled particles upon being stressed.

Videos

Researchers develop flexible, recyclable, self-healing metals

Self-healing electronics

High thermal conductivity in soft composites