• Croci © 2017 IIT 8379
  • Image 6 3555 © 2016 IIT 4877
  • Cupola © 2017 IIT 8380
  • Integrated Approach 16510

Soft systems are a promising direction for creating future leading technologies capable of both interacting with and assisting humans, by negotiating useful tasks in the environment. Human/environment-machine interactions are highly critical, and the use of soft sensing that is intelligent with flexible electronics and processing, fully symbiotic with soft movement is imperative. The scientific goal of this research line is to investigate natural-like physical interactions and create new soft and embodied sensing processes, with a focus on touch, for totally new robotic solutions that can ‘see the world’ and intelligently interact with it.

Our activities are based on three major areas: biomechanics of touch, embodied 3D soft transduction and bioinspired soft robotic systems for active touch investigation. Our work is articulated among various interplaying parts that involve: the study of selected biological models, material selection and characterization, design of system and of transduction mechanism – including modelling, fabrication with designed technological process, development of suitable signal processing (software and hardware). 3D fabrication technologies across multiple scales are investigated with soft non-linear materials (passive and conductive) (e.g. conductive polymers, conductive textiles, composite materials with fillers/particles as metals/CNT/graphene, responsive hydrogels, conductive fibers etc.), and several transduction principles applied (e.g. optical, inductive, piezoelectric, capacitive, resistive, etc.). Sensing features at low and high level are either directly extracted or investigated by means of cutting edge AI technologies.

Openings

Laboratories

We utilize mainly the following equipment, available at Center for MicroBioRobotics (CMBR) of IIT:

  • COMSOL Multiphysics to study coupled or multiphysics phenomena in e.g. mechanical, optical and electrical devices and systems;
  • Clean room facilities -  including e.g. photolithography, soft lithography, thin film deposition, direct laser writing (Nanoscribe), inkjet-printing (DMP-2831, Dimatix, Fujifilm);
  • Additive manufacturing technologies – like multimaterial 3D printer (3D-Bioplotter® Manufacturer Series, Envisiontech), stereolithography (SLA) printer (Form 2, Formlabs), several fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers, including Ultimaker S3;
  • Laser cutter (VersaLaser VLS3.50)  and 3D printer (CubeX, 3DSystems);
  • SEM (EVO MA10, Zeiss), Dual Beam system (Helios 600l, FEI), optical microscope ( KH-7700, Hirox), optical profilometer (DCM 3D, Leica), AFM, nanoindenter, high resolution cameras, 3DoF systems integrating a multi-axis load cells and precision linear translators;
  • Other facilities and labs utilized for this research line include electronic circuit design and fabrication facilities, a mechanical machine shop, and a chemical lab.

News

Projects

  • PROBOSCIS project - “PROBOSCIdean Sensitive soft robot for versatile gripping”  (2019-2023) - Coordinator
  • 3D-SITS project - “3D Stretchable Inductive Tactile Sensors for Soft Artificial Touch” (2018-2020)
  • FLEX-HANDLING “Advanced soft sensing and control in soft grippers for flexible materials handling” - Royal Society International Exchanges (2019-2021)

Collaborations

  • Prof. Unyong Jeong Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea
  • Dr. Shan Luo
  • Dr. Paolo Paoletti University of Liverpool, UK
  • Prof. Michel Milinkovitch University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Prof. Shlomo Magdassi Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Prof. Cecilia Laschi
  • Dr. Egidio Falotico Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy
  • Dr. Kathryn Daltorio Case Western Reserve University, USA
  • Prof. Paolo Milani University of Milan, Italy
  • Dr. Barbara Mazzolai IIT-BSR
  • Prof. Massimo De Vittorio IIT-CBN
  • Dr. Marco Crepaldi IIT-EDL