Wearable and Stretchable Stain/Tactile Sensors for Soft Robotic Applications
Wearable sensor technologies have recently attracted tremendous attention due to their potential applications in soft robotics, human motion detection, prosthetics, and personalized healthcare monitoring. Remarkable advances in materials science, nanotechnology, and biotechnology have led to the development of various wearable and stretchable sensors. For example, researchers including us have developed resistive and capacitive-type strain and pressure sensors and demonstrated their use in soft robotics, tactile sensing and perception, and human body motion detection. Despite great progress, the majority of the current soft strain and tactile sensors suffer from poor mechanical durability and their sensing performance is highly vulnerable to atmospheric conditions such as variations in temperature and relative humidity.
In this project, the PhD candidate(s) will work on the design and development of stretchable optomechanical sensors, known to be less sensitive to environmental factors. The sensors comprise of highly soft and stretchable polymeric optical fibers integrated with LEDs and photodiodes. When stretched or compressed, the changes in the optical loss across the fibers can be measured as a function of the applied strain or force, thereby the deformation and touch event can be measured when the sensors are attached to soft-bodied robots, wearable prosthetics, or human body. As a part of this project, the candidate(s) will investigate the effect of environmental parameters on the output signal of sensors. Additionally, the project will focus on the integration of the developed sensors and soft gripper robots or wearable prosthetic hand for feedback grasping and manipulation.
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