Hongbo Wang (王洪波) obtained his B.E. in Precision Instrumentation and Machinery (with solid background in both mechanical and electronic engineering) at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), Hefei, China in 2010. Then, he became a PhD student in Professor Zhihua Feng’s group to study precision sensors and actuators at the same institute. During his PhD, he developed several state-of-the-art sensors and sensing systems, from low-power, high resolution magnetometers, and eddy-current displacement sensors with sub-nanometer resolution and low thermal drift, to a non-contact metal film thickness measuring system. In June 2015, he received his PhD from USTC and was awarded with the President’s “Special Prize” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
Hongbo Wang moved to England as a postdoctoral research fellow in June 2015, working on a Leverhulme Trust funded project on soft tactile sensors and sensing system optimization at the Surgical Technology Research Group (led by Dr Peter Culmer) in School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK. In this project, he developed tri-axis soft tactile sensors (MagOne) and sensing arrays (MagTrix) based on Hall-effect sensors, and soft inductive tactile sensors (SITS) based on Eddy-current effect.
In September 2017, he joined Dr Lucia Beccai’s Group (Artificial Touch in Soft Biorobotics) at Center for Micro-Biorobotics (@SSSA) of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Pontedera (Pisa), Italy. His current research focuses on developing 2D/3D stretchable strain and tactile sensors, and the associate design, materials, fabrication, powering, and data interpretation technologies, enabling them to be directly integrated into next generation robots (e.g. soft robots) and smart healthcare systems.
Hongbo Wang is a grantee of the Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (MSCA-IF-EF-2017). Since September, 2018, he has been working on his fellowship project "3D Stretchable Inductive Tactile Sensors for Soft Artificial Touch (3D-SITS)".
Tactile sensors are essential components that enable robotic systems to interact safely and effectively with humans and the environment, and also offer significant potential for use in modern healthcare systems. Compared to visual and auditory senses, the tactile sensory system provided by human skin is complex, consisting of large number of high performance, multi-modal sensory elements (mechanoreceptors) in soft 3D structures to extract information during interaction with objects. To be effectively applied in real-world environments, tactile sensors must have both high compliance and high performance, and also need to be durable and robust to the repeated physical interactions. Researchers seeking innovations in tactile sensing have explored and exploited new materials, novel composites/structures, fabrication techniques and transducer mechanisms. Although remarkable progress has been made in developing 2D flexible sensing skins, a third dimension in soft sensing technology should be investigated to emulate multimodal, highly sensitive mechanoreceptors, and ultimately the human sense of touch.
In this Marie Curie Fellowship Project (3D-SITS), I propose to use elastomers with embedded 2D/3D coils to form multi-modal, stretchable sensing nodes. By investigating this overlooked transducer mechanism, together with novel design and fabrication techniques, that allow us to build truly soft, durable, high-performance, distributed, 3D tactile sensing systems at component level (artificial receptors) and then system level (soft robotics and wearable skin), providing a leap forward in the area of artificial touch for the next generation of robots, wearable systems, and human–machine interfaces.