Research

We work at the interface between physics, soft mechanics and material engineering. We are interested in developing general research routes for materials robotics that are out of equilibrium, locomotive, interactive, and capable of self-feedback, adaptation, and communication.

We seek ideas for imaginative projects.

FAIRY

Recently, light-responsive soft materials have proven their unique ability of actuation, providing novel approaches for miniaturization of soft robots by powering them wirelessly through remotely controlled light beam(s). This has led to demonstrations of versatile light-driven robots that can walk, swim, jump, etc. FAIRY will take a significant leap in material science to develop small-scale light driven flying robots with adaptive features inspired by biological organisms.

Funding source: Academy of Finland. Photo credit: Jianfeng Yang.

 

OPTOPUS

Soft robotics offers technical innovations to overcome the grand challenges encountered in conventional rigid machines that relate to adaptive motion and safety concerns. However, presently available actuation and control strategies prevent device miniaturization. OPTOPUS aims at developing a new type of wireless soft robotic system with overall size in a millimetre range, that is capable of sophisticated functions when fuelled by light energy only. Drawing from physics, microrobotics, chemistry and material science, we devise soft-bodied robots that perform jumping and 2D locomotion steering with light, as well as miniature actuators that can recognize and grasp objects based on their colours

Funding source: Academy of Finland. Photo credit: Jani Patrakka

OSCILLATE

Self-oscillation is a phenomenon where an object sustains periodic motion upon non-periodic stimulus. It occurs commonly in nature, a few examples being heartbeat, ocean waves and the fluttering of leaves, in which the feedback mechanics always plays an essential role. Stimuli-responsive materials allow creating self-oscillators that can transfer different forms of energy, e.g., heat, light and chemicals into cyclic mechanical motion. OSCILLATE aims to develop new concepts of self-oscillators that can perform non-reciprocal, multi-mode and zero-energy mode movements upon light excitation. Bioinspiration is our general guideline, and we wish to create new concepts of optical feedback mechanisms for robotic interaction, which can be generalized to other materials or chemical systems.