Seminar with Dr. Mishu Duduta: Dielectric Elastomer Actuators from Novel Materials to Haptic Applications

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

5 King's College Rd.

Speaker: Dr. Mishu Duduta, Harvard University – PhD – Materials and Mechanical Engineering

Title: Dielectric Elastomer Actuators from Novel Materials to Haptic Applications

Abstract: The emerging field of soft robotics promises technological solutions for performing complex tasks in human-centric environments, with applications in healthcare, the human-technology interface, manufacturing, and beyond. The most significant challenge in soft robotic systems is finding soft, fast, and energy dense components to store energy, and deliver power. One type of promising electro-mechanical transducers, dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), operate as a compliant capacitors, but exhibit small force outputs and low specific energy at the device level. By employing strain stiffening elastomers and ultra-thin nanoscale conductors in a multilayer configuration, we bypass the conventional DEA limitations to make fully soft, high specific energy, artificial muscles. At their peak the multilayer DEAs reach 19.8 J/kg, close to the upper range for natural muscles (0.4 – 40 J/kg). Robotic demonstrations include a crawling inchworm (that moves at speeds upwards of one body length per second), an autonomous swimmer (with on board power) and the first jumper (containing a power-amplification mechanism). Thinking beyond DEAs, soft robots can be re-imagined with novel soft transducer mechanisms that convert electrical energy and chemical fuels into usable mechanical power. Using bio-inspiration, multi-functional materials can be developed into more robust, and more capable soft robotic devices for haptic communication, rehabilitation, and other human-centric applications.

Bio: Mihai “Mishu” Duduta is a medical devices innovation fellow at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, leading a team developing soft robots for endovascular interventions. He completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, working with Profs. Robert Wood and David Clarke on fully soft, high bandwidth, high specific energy multilayer DEAs for soft robots. Before graduate school, Mishu earned a Bachelor’s in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT, working with Profs. Yet-Ming Chiang and W. Craig Carter on semi-solid flow batteries. Between MIT and Harvard he worked at a start-up company, 24M Technologies, aimed at commercializing the semi-solid battery technology.


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