Becoming sustainable, the new frontier in soft electronics and robotics

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Event details

Date and time 14.12.2020 12:1513:00  
Place and room
Online https://epfl.zoom.us/j/841073972
Speaker Prof. Dr. Martin Kaltenbrunner
Johannes Kepler University Linz
Category Conferences - Seminars

Institute of Microengineering - Distinguished Lecture

Due to the covid-19 restrictions currently in place, the lecture will take place remotely by zoom only.

Zoom Live Stream: https://epfl.zoom.us/j/841073972

Abstract: The advancement of technology has a profound and far-reaching impact on our society, now penetrating all areas of our life. From cradle to grave, we are supported by and depend on a wide range of electronic and robotic appliances, with an ever more intimate integration of the digital and biological spheres. These advances however often come at the price of negatively impacting our ecosystem, with growing demands on energy, contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution - from production to improper disposal. Mitigating these adverse effects is amongst the grand challenges of our society and at the forefront of materials research. The currently emerging forms of soft, biologically inspired electronics and robotics have the unique potential of becoming not only like their natural antitypes in performance and capabilities, but also in terms of their ecological footprint.
This talk introduces materials and methods including tough yet biodegradable biogels for soft systems that facilitate a broad range of applications, from transient wearable electronics to metabolizable soft robots. These embodiments are reversibly stretchable, are able to heal and are resistant to dehydration. Our forms of soft electronics and robots – built from resilient biogels with tunable mechanical properties – are designed for prolonged operation in ambient conditions without fatigue, but fully degrade after use through biological triggers. Electronic skins merged with imperceptible foil technologies provide sensory feedback such as pressure, strain, temperature and humidity sensing in combination with untethered data processing and communication through a recyclable on-board computation unit. Such advances in the synthesis of biodegradable, mechanically tough and stable iono-and hydrogels may bring bionic soft systems a step closer to nature. Pushing the boundaries further, design concepts for fast actuation in soft robotics systems, from exploiting mechanical instabilities to leveraging magnetic interactions on the millimeter scale are introduced.

Bio: Kaltenbrunner is a full professor at the Johannes Kepler University, heading the Soft Matter Physics Division and the LIT Soft Materials Lab. He received his master’s and PhD degrees in physics from the Johannes Kepler University in 2008 and 2012, respectively. He then joined the Someya-Sekitani Lab for Organic Electronics at The University of Tokyo as postdoctoral researcher prior to his present position. Kaltenbrunner’s research interests include soft electronics and machines, biodegradable soft materials, photovoltaics, lightning and thin film transistors, soft transducers and robotics, flexible and stretchable electronics, and electronic skin.