MICA (Measurement, Instrumentation, Control, and Analysis) is an educational initiative that aims to bring low-cost, wireless sensors and generators into the hands of students. MICA focuses on hands-on, objective driven STEM education facilitated by robotics. Sophisticated enough for research, simple enough for kindergarten.
Our objective is to create a new class of actuators that, like muscle, harness molecular deformations to generate meso- and macroscopic force and displacement. We are designing Conducting Polymers which undergo large conformation changes in response to electrically or chemically induced changes in oxidation state.
The laboratory's Needle Free Injector (NFI) utilizing a custom, controllable linear Lorentz-force motor (among a suite of other technologies) will allow for repeatable delivery of drug to a target tissue via jet injection. Current research is directed toward evaluating the feasibility of delivering vaccines and biotherapeutics to a variety of target tissues and organs.
Autonomous Nano-stepping Tool System (ANTS) represents a paradigm shift for measurement and manipulation at the micro/nano scale. ANTS combines low-cost fabrication techniques with a high-degree of subsystem integration to deliver an inexpensive tool that has an unlimited workspace. With ANTS, we seek to invert the existing notion that specimens should be delivered to stationary bench-top instruments.
Another focus in the laboratory is on innovations for next-generation Medical Robotics applied to endoscopes. This includes actuator design for tip-driven robotic endoscope designs, modular architectures, electronics design and sensor design. Modelling and controlling these systems helps improve their performance and provides a testbed for additional innovations.
Black-box, nonlinear stochastic system identification techniques, such as Wiener, Hammerstein, and Volterra configurations provide broad frameworks of assumptions to model data. We develop, design, and construct specialized high-bandwidth instruments to deploy Nonlinear Stochastic System ID Techniques for a variety of applications. These include characterizing physical systems such as conducting polymer films and biological systems such as cardiac myocytes, knee joint dynamics, and the mechanical properties of skin.
Work on new designs and materials to store energy and convert it into a useful actions. Efforts are underway to custom design and assemble high-performance motors and haptic displays. We also are developing supercapacitors and other energy storage technologies in the laboratory. These Novel Actuators and Energy Storage Materials will enable advances in autonomous robotics, artificial organs and micro/nanosystems.
With modern scientific instruments, the ability to perform a full chemical analysis should be commonplace, but the size and cost of these devices limit access to only a few. This research effort seeks to miniaturize the major chemical analytical instruments, keeping the final cost low enough to make Micro Chemical Sensing Instruments affordable to all. The lab has developed a µMS, µGC, µRaman spectrometer, and µUV-Vis-IR spectrometer. Work is currently underway on a µNMR spectrometer.
The projects listed here are just a small sample of the type of work that goes on on the laboratory. We have many other budding projects currently operating in stealth. Be sure to stay tuned to our News Feed for updates on these new fronts!