Soft materials offer several advantages over their hard counterparts, including safe collaboration with humans and animals, the ability to conform to their surroundings, ease of sterilization for both food and medical applications, relatively low cost, and high cycle lifetime. The “material intelligence” embodied in soft grippers allows them to pick up delicate objects – like a raw egg – without complicated planning or feedback control. We explore applications of soft materials in robotics, particularly for development of all-soft devices that can complete tasks without the use of electronic controls (pictured above: autonomous soft gripper that closes automatically upon contact with the ball).
- A Soft Ring Oscillator
D.J. Preston, H.J. Jiang, V. Sanchez, P. Rothemund, J. Rawson, M.P. Nemitz, W.-K. Lee, Z. Suo, C.J. Walsh, G.M. Whitesides
Science Robotics, 4(31), 2019
- Digital Logic for Soft Devices
D.J. Preston, P. Rothemund, H.J. Jiang, M.P. Nemitz, J. Rawson, Z. Suo, G.M. Whitesides
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 1820672116, 2019
Control of micro/nanoscale structure allows for unique optical, thermal, and interfacial properties. We emphasize scalable micro/nanoscale surface roughness, which can be applied to any size or geometry object, for example, by wet chemistry or etching. In prior work, we have developed both well-controlled silicon-based microstructured surfaces for careful parametric studies, and scalable metal oxide nanostructured surfaces, including copper, zinc, aluminum, and titanium oxides, for potential industrial-scale application.
- Design of Lubricant Infused Surfaces
D.J. Preston, Y. Song, Z. Lu, D.S. Antao, E.N. Wang
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 9(48), 2017
- Nanoengineered Materials for Liquid-Vapour Phase-Change Heat Transfer
H.J. Cho, D.J. Preston, Y. Zhu, E.N. Wang
Nature Reviews Materials, 2, 2016
Chemical Treatments and Coatings
In addition to surface geometry or structure, the interfacial behavior of a surface is also strongly dependent on the surface’s chemical nature. Surface chemistry can be altered by application of self-assembled monolayers and polymeric coatings, or even by chemical vapor deposition of materials like graphene (pictured above). We focus on the development of robust, long-lasting chemical coatings that maintain their properties under harsh industrial conditions. We also investigate the effect of adventitious hydrocarbons (airborne contaminants) on surface chemistry and wettability.
- Scalable Graphene Coatings for Enhanced Condensation Heat Transfer
D.J. Preston, D.L. Mafra, N. Miljkovic, J. Kong, E.N. Wang
Nano Letters, 15(5), 2015
- Effect of Hydrocarbon Adsorption on the Wettability of Rare Earth Oxide Ceramics
D.J. Preston, N. Miljkovic, J. Sack, J. Queeney, E.N. Wang
Applied Physics Letters, 105(011601), 2014