LCSR Seminar – Yigit Menguc: “The mLab: Bringing Together Soft Active Materials, Bioinspired Mechanisms, and Multi-Material 3D Printing”
Incredible biological mechanisms have emerged through evolution, and can provide a wellspring of inspiration for engineers. One promising area of biological inspiration is the design of devices and robots made of compliant materials, as part of a larger field of research in soft robotics. In this talk, the research topics of soft robotics currently underway in the mLab at Oregon State University will be presented. Soft active materials designed and researched in the mLab include liquid metal, biodegradable elastomers, and electroactive materials. Bioinspired mechanisms include octopus-inspired soft muscles, gecko-inspired adhesives, and soft wearable sensors. However, the biological mechanisms that serve as a source of inspirations are made of materials that are vastly more compliant than the metal and plastic that engineers and roboticists normally use. To imitate and improve on nature’s design, we must create mechanisms with materials like fabric and rubber which is difficult to integrate into traditional fabrication techniques. To address these limitation, the mLab is also innovating in multi-material 3D printing to rapidly and directly fabricate soft robots. Though significant challenges remain to be solved, the development of such soft materials and devices promises to bring robots more and more into our daily lives.
Dr. Yiğit Mengüç works at the interface of mechanical science and robotics, creating soft devices inspired by nature and applied to robotics. He received his B.S., 2006, at Rice University his M.S., 2008, and Ph.D., 2011, in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He completed his postdoctoral work at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in 2014 and is now an assistant professor of Robotics and Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University where he founded and leads the mLab. He received an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program (ONR YIP) Award in 2016 to develop cephalopod-inspired robots.