Creating Soft Robots That Can Grow


In a recent paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, MSI PIs Chris Ellison (professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Sciences) and Timothy Kowalewski (associate professor, Mechanical Engineering) and their colleagues describe a new extrusion process that will allow soft robots to “grow” as they move. Soft robots are an emerging technology in which soft materials are used for the robots, allowing them access to places humans can’t go. A story about this research appears on the University of Minnesota News website: Engineering Develop Process That Enables Soft Robots to Grow Like Plants. The paper can be found on the journal website: Synthetic growth by self-lubricated photopolymerization and extrusion inspired by plants and fungi.

Professor Ellison uses MSI for computational work on the mechanical properties and deformations of soft elastomers as part of research into polymeric systems. Professor Kowalewski uses MSI resources for research that is advancing the emerging field of computational surgery.