SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Alexis Noel
TIME: Thursday, December 8, 2016, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 4211
TITLE: Sweat, spines and saliva: how to grab with soft biomaterials
COMMITTEE: Prof. David Hu, Chair (ME)
Prof. Michael Varenberg (ME)
Prof. H. Jerry Qi (ME)
Prof. Ting Zhu (ME)
Prof. Dan Goldman (PHYSICS)


There is an increasing interest in the field of soft robotics, in particular flexible materials that can adapt and deform to dynamic environments. However, researchers have struggled with how to use compliant materials to firmly grasp objects, a crucial step to implementing soft materials into our everyday lives. My thesis will consist of combined experimental and theoretical investigations of nature’s methodologies for grabbing with soft, compliant surfaces. Sweat glands in mammalian fingertips utilize capillary adhesion to assist with grip. Feline tongues are embedded with rigid spines for elasticity-driven entrapment of fur and particulate. Frogs utilize an ultra-soft tongue saturated with a sticky non-Newtonian fluid to adhere to prey at high speeds.